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Peter Scholten

Combining adaptation to climate change and flood risks with other societal challenges in an integrative approach brings together a multitude of public and private stakeholders. This chapter focuses on the synchronizing of public and private agendas in the achievement of adaptation priorities designed to reduce a region’s vulnerability to flooding. It describes and analyses a specific initiative in which public parties such as municipalities and a provincial government and private parties, in the form of enterprises in commerce and industry, have jointly developed plans to creating room for the river Waal. The case study is embedded in an overview of historical development in water management and climate adaptation policy in the Netherlands. A major conclusion of this chapter is that processes of synchronization, that is, ongoing processes of adjustment between the agendas of public and private parties, are a prerequisite for a climate-adaptive and integrated approach to water management in the Netherlands. The constant processes of adjustment require both public and private parties to adopt connective and holistic thinking in order to find common ground for themselves and their agendas, creating necessary linkages across policy domains, business sectors and societal barriers. An important characteristic of the case study described in this chapter is the embedding of public–private initiatives in existing procedures for policy making at the same time as the characteristic openness, flexibility and connectivity of synchronization principles are maintained. This approach creates a synchronization instrument that serves as a connection between the local initiative and the general governmental system.

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Stéphane Moyson and Peter Scholten

Policy learning designates the cognitive and social dynamic leading policy actors to revise or strengthen their policy beliefs and preferences over time. In this chapter, we propose a synthesis of existing research on policy learning. We distinguish three main sets of approaches – namely, the “managerialist” approaches, “diffusion and convergence” approaches, and “social learning” approaches – before pointing to their common characteristics: a consideration of the long run; a focus on the role not only of the state but also non-state actors in policy processes; and a recognition that policy actors’ rationality is “bounded”. Then, we discuss three challenges for future research: deepening our knowledge of the behavioural aspects of policy learning; recognizing and studying the multiple outcomes of policy learning; and looking for settings and practices fostering or impeding policy learning.