Applying Hybrid Governance Approaches to Achieve Integration Across Sustainable Transitions

Considering applications of governance mixes for the integration of climate adaptation and the heat transition

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The Netherlands must be natural gas-free by 2050. This means that neighbourhoods throughout the Netherlands will have to be overhauled for the construction of heat networks. In addition, we are increasingly faced with the effects of climate change, such as flooding and increasing heat. Both tasks require physical changes in the built environment and demand space in the built environment. An integrated approach to both the heat transition and climate adaptation has many benefits, but despite this tasks are often still tackled individually. The problem of not being able to integrate mitigation and climate adaptation measures appears to be not technical but organizational in nature. New governance approaches will be needed that can realize integration of the heat transition and climate adaptation. However, there is little knowledge of how different governance approaches perform to realise this goal. This research tries to fill that gap. The research question is: “How do hybrid governance approaches perform in realising integration between the implementation of heat transition and climate adaptation measures?” For answering this research question, cases are studied in which existing neighbourhoods undergo a transition to a natural gas-free heating system and consider climate adaptation to a greater or lesser extent. Their current governance approach is mapped and evaluated. All studied cases appeared to consist of different governance mixes and have a different dominant governance mode. Integration in projects is now often initiated by someone who sees the opportunity and acts on it, instead of considering it by default and assignments are not integrally defined. This makes it harder to integrate different sustainable transitions during the project. At the start of a project for the construction of a heat network, the project is under a certain time pressure. If climate adaptation measures were to be linked to this project, a plan would already have to be in place and a budget would have to be made available. Taking climate adaptation actions has to be seen as urgent and must be found worthwhile by the parties. There are different hybrid governance approaches that lead to integration of transition. However, it does seem that a Network approach with some elements of Hierarchy works well for integrated projects. Network and hierarchical actions could be taken to realize integration, like sharing knowledge and creating awareness for integrated projects and the municipality could take control over the subsoil by coordinating it more. A network structure needs to be created, combined with hierarchical forms of regulation. Consciously looking at the performance of current governance approaches can be helpful in adapting them appropriately to address complex societal issues. It will help to make deliberate choices for altering the current governance approach to realise integration of heat transition and climate adaptation tasks.