Evolution of River Management: Up to Integrated and Beyond

in Nature and Culture
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Integrated river management is heralded as the new style of river management, but it has been preceded by a number of previous styles, and is unlikely to be the last. This article presents the first analysis of the evolution of river management using Spiral Dynamics (SD). SD provides a growth hierarchy of value systems (vMemes), reflecting increasing complexity and inclusiveness ranging from instinctive to holistic. Based on an interpretation of literature and policy documents, we conclude that (1) SD provides a broad interpretative framework that can be applied in all river basins, (2) river management in the Netherlands shows the subsequent dominance of the blue, orange, and green vMeme, yellow is at the take-off phase, (3) further transition to yellow integrated river management requires identification of barriers to change. We give an overview and policy implications. Further research should be oriented towards quantification of vMemes in stakeholders and landscaping measures.