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The Impact of the Interaction Process on Activities in the Rural Area: A comparison between the cases „Boven Regge‟ and „Azelerbeek‟ in the Netherlands

Janson, Judy (2009) The Impact of the Interaction Process on Activities in the Rural Area: A comparison between the cases „Boven Regge‟ and „Azelerbeek‟ in the Netherlands.

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Abstract:In this research the contextual interaction theory is used as a framework for analyzing two area development processes in the Netherlands. The purpose of the research is to determine to what degree public and private stakeholder involvement in the rural policy process will lead to more and better sustainable activities in the rural area. The case study compares the two cases „Azelerbeek‟ and „Boven Regge‟ which are comparable in their objectives. The focus in both cases is on the reconstruction of the watercourses, creating nature-areas, water retention possibilities, and broadening or cutting out agricultural activities. We found that rural policy steers actors in their actions in a certain way, because of obligations to fulfill certain objectives. Rural policy and regulation can be restrictive, but on the other hand provides also power and capacity for actors to act in accordance with their aims. The European Water Framework Directive for instance gives power and capacity to fulfill water objectives, or for instance Natura 2000 which represents nature objectives. A multifunctional use of the rural area is promoted within Dutch rural policy documents. Rural Development Policy became a major element in the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Hence, the CAP promotes the development of more sustainable activities on the countryside, but also because of decreased compensations. The Reconstruction Law forms in our case study areas the leading document, because the developments are dependent from the reconstruction zoning with a distinction between agricultural development zones, extensive areas – with nature as main objective - and weaving areas – combining functions. The Azelerbeek development program forms a pilot under the Reconstruction Plan – on the base of the Reconstruction Law. The policy network in the Azelerbeek case was therefore structure related, while the network in the Boven Regge was agency related because the network has been formed on the initiative out of the area. Sustainable activities were in both cases realized because of voluntary involvement. Involvement in the form of a policy community with few involved actors is a basis for the further process. It proved to be important that the process starts at the local scale with early involvement of affected people, whereby actors out of the area take the initiative by themselves. Actors choose for involvement, because of shared problem perceptions and are therefore willing to exchange resources. It is important to include various goals in the plan from the beginning, so that more actors have an interest and contribute to resource exchange. The provided activities are in this way more sustainable on the long term if all three sustainability pillars – social, economical and ecological - are represented in more or less the same extent. This is however dependent from the way power is distributed. Twickel has for instance much power in the Azelerbeek case, because this actor owns many grounds and has many tenant farmers. The government should decide in common interest about the developments made with help of the constitutional basis for decision making and also on the base of her property and ownership, for instance through reconsolidations with help of governmental ownership of grounds. Also, a positive nature of the plan in terms of goals and approach – early involvement and bottom-up - contributes to realizing sustainable activities. Government should provide the necessary resources in terms of money, support, certainty and information, so that farmers have enough power and capacity to provide sustainable activities. The government must have the role of a facilitator, whereby the focus must lay on farmers‟ attitude and not on farmers‟ behaviour. Thereby is communicating possibilities for sustainable activities most important, not only directly to farmers but also by politicians so that awareness via the media rises. In this way, the cognition, motivation, power and capacity of actors in terms of the contextual interaction theory will
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:Public Administration MSc (60020)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/60218
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