The Dutch region of Zeeland is surrounded by water. The regional government of Zeeland makes a new regional plan for these waters every four years. These regional plans have a significant influence on the possibilities for development of biodiversity, economy, mobility, tourism, etcetera.

Challenges for the the Delta-waters were becoming too complex to be solved by one or a few actors. The status-quo that followed paralyzed development in the whole area. Key-stakeholder were arguing and not co-operating on important issues. Fishermen were arguing that surfers and tourists were a threat to their catch. Environmentalist were strongly opposing new housing and harbor development. Waterquality of the basins was threatened by several activities on the land and on the water.

The regional government was afraid they would build a new plan that would only contribute to the current paralyzing status-quo.

A Search Conference was held to build a plan that would incorporate the key stakeholders, and make them part of the planning process. They took the opportunity. During the Search Conference in oktober 2009 they found common ground and started working on collaborative plans.

For every water basin a group of key stakeholders was formed. These groups set a wide range of actions in motion. Work on the projects is continuing as we speak. For the regional government, this was very exciting.

This was the first time they really gave the community a role in the development of regional plans.

“We set an example with this regional plan, now we will have to make sure we keep acting in our new role”, commented project leader Leo van den Brand.