Many interventions in the physical environment have been made—and continue to be made—as if this environment had infinite resilience. Now that people are becoming more aware that both environmental resilience and natural resources are finite multifunctionality, i.e. combining goals and sharing means, is gaining in importance. Think of an embankment that serves as flood defence, road and tidal energy plant at the same time. These three goals are combined, and together share the means of the embankment. They link the interests of water safety, transport and renewable energy.
The transition towards combining goals and sharing means is a radical one. In years past, individual means on a specialised basis have been continually optimised, with the only condition being that others should not suffer as a result. As a consequence, many goals and means have become strictly separated. When people start to combine these aspects, new competencies are called for. Change is necessary to help people realise that they can achieve mutual advantage by working together, even ultimately increasing mutual freedom.
The book ‘Reinventing Multifunctionality’ gives dozens of examples of multifunctionality from the Netherlands. This book also tries to explain the reinvention of multifunctionality that is going on in these examples. They’re more than just a couple of functions on the same spot, they reinforce one another.