The observations from the two Governance visits to the Flanders region in Belgium show that the main initiative to push the drought topic comes from Flemish Environment Agency (VMM, also a partner in DROP). As in many DROP case studies, in Flanders awareness for drought issues is lacking in many stakeholder groups. The approach used by VMM is based on making a scientific case for drought action on the part of stakeholders, for instance by developing indicators targeting the agricultural sector. This same approach, in which solid scientific results are used to create awareness of impacts and as basis for a discussion that addresses responses, was already used successfully by VMM in the implementation of the Floods Directive. Therefore an established “organizational logic” is being followed in VMM’s approach to droughts.
Drought problems are already included in some strategies and visions such as the first “Flemish vision on water policy” and the Environmental Policy Plan 2011-2015 “MINA-Plan 4”. In addition, different policy instruments have already been implemented, e.g. groundwater taxes for business users (handpumps and households not included) and groundwater permits. Advisory services for farmers seem to be quite developed and they work towards water saving. Water saving is also supported with actions at house scales as rainfalls harvesting. To sum up, it can be seen that a certain number of drought-related instruments are already implemented, but the instruments are not developed in view of one strategic objective or strategy. The instruments were developed very independently, and for different relevant areas. The result is that there are no main overlaps between instruments, but they are also not supporting each other.
The Groot Salland Case is characterized by a vivid governance context. We observe this mainly in two governance-related issues. Firstly, the emphasis of national and EU policies on river basin management encourages the water boards in the same sub-basin to act at the regional level. As a major initiative in this direction, the water boards in the Rhine-East sub-basin adopted a common irrigation policy, which covers both surface water and groundwater use and aims to balance the use of water by nature and by agriculture. In the highly extensive and complex actor setting of Dutch water management, the design and implementation of such a regional policy implies both opportunities to improve the regional water system through technical and institutional changes as well as risks of excluding some of the diverse perspectives and concerns. Secondly, the policy priorities and objectives are shifting due to the existing and potential threats of climate change. The increasing understanding on the risks of drought for all water users creates a collaborative environment for all the stakeholders, who combine their efforts in multiple ways, such as projects at different levels and with different features, as well as regional platforms to emphasize the policy urgency regarding both too much and too little water.