The new environmental law: a seriously complex business

In 2021, one of the largest legal reforms ever will enter into force: the Environmental Law (‘omgevingswet’), which determines the development and management of the physical environment we live in. Dozens of laws and hundreds of rules about water, soil, construction, nature, cultural heritage, infrastructure, etc. have been bundled. In what we do with the scarce space in the Netherlands we will have to take all these aspects into account at the same time from now on.

Perspectivity-partner Jelle Troelstra has contributed to the creation of the law from 2011 to 2016. Since then, he has stayed involved in raising awareness about the law in the country.

One of the challenges for the State is that the law requires all of the involved ministeries to collaborate more. Many interests in the area of living environment (such as living, working, spatial planning, infrastructure, energy transition, nature, cultural history, environmental impact, etc.) must be weighed together. It is an enormous paradigm shift. This is also the case for provinces, water boards and municipalities. Its implementation is a large operation.

It is not strange that the implementation date has been postponed from 1 July 2019, to 1 January 2020 to 1 January 2021, and again due to the corona crisis.

Perspectivity partner Han Rakels was asked by the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs, who coordinates the law, to provide advice about the design of transformation task to bring about behavioural change in the ministry. And the appointment of a new state-wise change manager led to Han Rakels and Jelle Troelstra conducting monthly advisory sessions and providing support since May 2019.

The Perspectivity Complexity Navigator provides direction in this. Especially the ‘undercurrent’ is broadly explored: the hard elements (policy, digitalisation, licensing system, etc.) will be alright, and are already difficult enough, but the creation of new ways of working together, different ways of making decisions and having different mind-sets are a challenge of a completely different order. One that is much more difficult to make tangible, but is at least as important for the successful implementation of the law.

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