Published on
January 26, 2017

Joined search for innovation in the water cycle of Zutphen, a medium sized Dutch city

Innovation in the water cycle is not just a technological story, that much is known by now. Actually, technology is often not even the crucial factor for success. In general, and in the Netherlands, multiple parties are involved in wastewater-innovation processes, all with their own interests and constrains. Mutual insight and understanding of these interests and constrains significantly enlarges the chances of success in these projects.

Together with the Dutch medium sized city Zutphen, LeAF has organised a very inspiring Stakeholder Workshop to which all key stakeholders of a certain urban renovation project were invited. By means of the Stakeholder Workshop, the city of Zutphen, the Water board Rijn en IJssel, the residential business company Ieder1, waste(water) treatment company GMB and constructor Heijmans discussed and explained their own ambitions, aims, frustrations, contracts and motivations related to the redevelopment project.

During this process, it became clear that not each individual and organisation had the same aims and ambitions. Some were clearly aiming for more innovations than others. It also became clear that due to already signed contracts and published organisational ambitions, the individual and organisational willingness and actual possibilities do not always match. During the group sessions, mutual insight and understanding grew and the discussions shifted from talking about foreseen problems to realistic options and cooperation. The stakeholders began to see how innovations in the water cycle can contribute to realizing their own ambitions!

Based on the above mentioned ambitions, aims, frustrations, contracts and motivations, LeAF made an overview of technological and social options that would fit the ambitions, aims and possibilities of all parties present and that would ensure an innovative water cycle for the to-be renovated neighbourhood in Zutphen. By clearly presenting the financial, technological, environmental and behavioural consequences of the options for users, owners and operators, the discussion was directed to finding promising innovations in the water cycle.

All parties showed their enthusiasm about the experiences and the Stakeholder Workshop process. The gained insight in each other’s positions, the expressed intentions to continue to search for options, the new public-private cooperation’s and several spin-off projects were the most important deliverables of the project. This project shows that innovation in the water cycle is very well possible once people and organisations are really connected and committed. From then on, the technological aspects will find their way to the agenda.

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