The Gelderland province launched the WaalWeelde project in 2009, with the aim of improving the quality of the areas around the river Waal, based among other things on the ideas of the Ruimte for Rivieren (Space for Rivers) campaign. Seven years on, and the world looks a little different. The major task of reinforcing the dykes alongside reducing financial resources have meant that the project had to be reviewed. The Gelderland province asked AT Osborne to evaluate the governance with the aim of learning from past experience and using this knowledge to set out alternatives for the future.
Here the province asked for advice about the WaalWeelde 2.0 governance system (structure, how roles were defined and responsibilities).
The AT Osborne team consisted of an expert in methodology and an expert in the subject matter. After discussions with the principal, it appeared that the question of an evaluation was mainly focused on a new and more transparent partnership structure for WaalWeelde 2.0. Against this backdrop, the AT Osborne team chose not to use individual interviews for its assessment, but instead opted to hold both official and unofficial working sessions where the parties could jointly review the past and imagine the future, while also setting out their expectations. During these sessions, it quickly became clear that the real question was not so much about the governance structure, but rather “What is the added value of WaalWeelde, given all the various programs and projects already underway along the river Waal?”
To answer this question, the team created an atmosphere which allowed all parties to reflect on the added value of WaalWeelde 2.0, and the insights gathered were analysed and shared with the principal. In the end, this led to AT Osborne not providing an opinion on WaalWeelde 2.0, as we saw that the decisions regarding WaalWeelde 2.0 really had to be taken by the parties themselves.
To facilitate this choice, AT Osborne developed four alternative detailed proposals to help to define the scope of the playing field. These four alternatives were then presented at a local government seminar, where the parties involved could work together to make a well-informed choice.