Natural Disasters and Development: In a Globalizing World

By Mark Pelling | Go to book overview

12

Risk regime change and political entrepreneurship

River management in the Netherlands and Bangladesh

Jeroen Warner

Introduction

Over the past two decades the approach to river management has seen great change. Concrete structures, straight channels and top-down management have given way to greener, more complex engineering and participatory decision-making regimes. This chapter examines how individual political entrepreneurship within the state might trigger such change. Entrepreneurial actors seek to bring innovative ideas for managing natural resources onto the policy agenda for dealing with risk. In so doing they introduce elements of a new paradigm into the water management regime. Different literatures are connected with each other to develop an analytical framework for understanding innovation, which is applied to two cases - one in the North (the Netherlands) and one in the South (Bangladesh).


Uncertainty and complexity in public management

The past few decades have seen an uneasy but necessary reassessment of the 'engineerability' of society. Social engineering failed to solve problems in the societal domain, while civil engineering did not put an end to risks such as flooding and water scarcity. The intractability of many social development issues coincides with a feeling in some quarters that the governability of society itself is at risk (Kaplan 1994). But faced with a complex problem, we can at least try to increase the solution space. For issues that are both complex, dynamic and diverse, Kooiman (1993) suggests an approach in which governments abandon their going-it-alone approach and share governance tasks and capacities with the private and civil society sectors, on the basis that neither top-down, bottom-up nor horizontal (co-governance) approaches alone can work. A multilevel, multi-actor, multifaceted, multi-instrumental and multi-resource based (Bressers and Kuks 2001) mode of governance should improve the relation between stress and coping capacities; that is, the governability (Kooiman 1993; Green and Warner 1999) of today's complex policy issues.

This is in line with governance developments in general, both in Western Europe and elsewhere, where overloaded governments are at pains to share

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