Background, Aims, and Scope. Sediment management in coastal zones is taking place in high complex environments. Present management options do not have a sophisticated way of dealing with the actual complexity of the physical and the social systems and with the unpredictability that is inherent with these systems. Therefore, a new approach in both policy making and sediment management is needed that takes this complexity into account. The aim of this article is to explore the dynamics in social and natural systems and to draw the contours of this new approach for policy processes and sediment management that fits to the dynamics of the systems. Results and Discussion. The case studies show that chance events can occur in the biophysical and in the social system. In the three cases, players or actors in the decision process are left with the choice to adapt themselves to the occurring chance events or to refrain from any adaptive behaviour. Chance events can open up new possibilities by activating (new) actors and by coupling to new issues. If the situation is too locked-in (i.e. a stalemate) and is intentional on behalf of the actors, than the chance event will have no effect. There are, however, situations of lock-in that are unintentional, and in such situations a chance event can remove this lock-in. The effects depend largely on the adaptive capacity of the actors to respond adequately and timely to such situations. The adaptive capacity can be increased (and uncertainty reduced) by a better understanding of both the physical and the social system. The case studies show that adaptation is an adequate way of dealing with the occurrence of chance events.

complexity, policy process, public governance, public management, public sector, sediment management, stakeholder involvement, systems approach
Journal of Soils and Sediments: protection, risk assessment and remediation
Department of Public Administration

Slob, A, & Gerrits, L.M. (2007). The Dynamics of Sedimentary Systems and the Whimsicality of Policy Processes. Journal of Soils and Sediments: protection, risk assessment and remediation, 277–284. Retrieved from