Social Environment and Area Planning Processes

We live in a time of transitions and changes, both in organisations and in the physical environment. We have ambitions in the area of climate adaptation, the water transition, the energy transition and biodiversity. At the same time, we need to take into account the legal frameworks, such as the Environment and Planning Act and the European Water Framework Directive (WFD), when organising area planning processes in which public authorities, entrepreneurs, societal organisations and citizens jointly seek solutions to (water) issues. Within Public Design for Water, the activities in this area belong to the Social Environment and Area Planning Processes knowledge field. Here the focus is on insight into problem perceptions, needs, risk perceptions and values of stakeholders.

The developments within the social environment and area planning processes strongly determine how organisations can, must and wish to act. Professionals work together within and outside organisations to elaborate societal challenges. Through research into organisational and area planning processes we not only generate knowledge, but we also develop tools to enable professionals in different societal transitions to realise multiple values: ecological, cultural, economic and social.

Methods and projects within Social Environment and Area Planning Processes

In the collective research programme of the Dutch drinking water utilities and De Watergroep (Flanders) work is structurally conducted on investigations concerning stakeholder management and transitions. Together with actors in the social environment of water, we reflect on the responsibilities and roles they fulfil. We also study the needs, desires and values that these actors bring to an organisation or an area. We do this with tools like serious gaming and the option matrix, also through the organisation of collective design processes. In this manner, we activate the learning capacity of actors and offer them conceptual frameworks and courses of action for the realisation of ambitions, such as establishing water and soil as guiding values, and the water transition.