The Use of Knowledge Tools and Transition Tools for the Transition to Adaptive Water Management and Realisation of Nature-based Solutions
: An Assessment of Water ManagementPractices in Co-Adapt Catchments

  • Sam Hensbergen van
  • Eleanora Janssen
  • Narsing Lakhi
  • Marlies Weeting

Student thesis: Bachelor's Thesis


The full impact of global warming and climate change on catchments in Northwest Europe remains uncertain. Consequently, water management practices need a radical overhaul to anticipate changing climate conditions and its uncertainties. In the context of the complexity of Social-Ecological System (SES) - a system with its dynamics and interactions between its social-human and ecological part - these uncertainties require an innovative and adaptive water management (AWM) approach. AWM is essentially an experimental approach, characterized by iterative development cycles. However, institutional settings are in many cases too constraining and inflexible to allow continuous improvement of climate adaptivity.

This research is conducted within Co-Adapt, a collaboration of eight catchments in northwestern Europe. Co-Adapt professionals focus on the realisation of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) - actions based on nature as a solution to sustainability problems - in co-creation with key stakeholders. Tooling is deployed to support waterprofessionals in the transition towards AWM and in the process of realising NbS in co-creation with stakeholders. In this research two types of tools are assessed: Knowledge Tools (KT) and Transition Tools (TT). KT are instruments in which creation and/or transfer of knowledge is the central focus. TT support the initiation and/or process of transition.

It is unclear how tooling can best support waterprofessionals in AWM and the realisation of NbS. Therefore, KT and TT used within Co-Adapt are assessed on their contribution to AWM and NbS and their reusability. Data from Co-Adapt i s collected through a survey, webinars and interviews with waterprofessionals. Four studies are conducted using this data. The first study is an assessment of AWM with respect to three institutional factors; adaptive governance, cooperation structures and adaptive policy development. The second study is an evaluation of the Panarchy-model for the assessment of tools and their effectiveness in delivering NbS. T he Panarchy-model is an integrative sustainability tool analysis framework. The third study is an assessment of the role of SES in tool selection and use. It provides insights in the impact of tools on SES and the re-usability of tools in other catchments. The final study is an analysis of the contribution of TT to transition processes .

AWM in Co-Adapt primarily focusses on improving cooperation structures. KT and TT are mainly used in a Co-Adapt setting to develop cooperation structures and increase stakeholder involvement. The complexity of SES makes tool selection complicated. Tools can only be re-used in other catchments if they are adjusted to the specifics of the SES. To assess the effectivity of tools and increase their reusability more information should be collected over time (initial and final state) and regarding the contribution to three sustainability dimensions.

KT and TT collected from Co-Adapt catchments are bundled and published into guides. A Guide to Knowledge Tools (G2KT) and a Guide to Transition Tools (G2TT) are appended to this report. Also, Good Practices (GP) have been collected through the survey. The GP are not assessed in this research. Since the GP cannot be allocated to the G2KT or G2TT, they are bundled in a G2GP. The guides intent to provide information about tools and support the transition to AWM and NbS within Co-Adapt catchments and beyond.
Date of Award8 Feb 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAngelique Lansu (Supervisor), Frank van Lamoen (Co-assessor) & Judith Floor (Co-assessor)


  • Knowledge Tool
  • Transition Tool
  • Co-creation
  • Adaptive water management
  • Nature based Solutions
  • Brook catchments
  • Adaptivecapacity
  • Resilience
  • Social-Ecological Systems

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