Long term policy issues like climate change adaptation are considered wicked in the sense that uncertain knowledge and volatile societal understandings associated to the issue might jeopardize long term sustainment of adaptation policies. Uncertainty or sudden societal opposition might politically be employed to dismantle earlier made policies or investments and therefore threaten long term adaptive capacity. This article highlights how successful long-term decision-making can be understood as a matter of puzzling over uncertainty and powering for getting things done, but above all requires sustainment of these decisions on the long term. For doing so the paper analyses the decision-making process of the Dutch Delta Committee in 2008, which firmly put the climate adaptation issue on the Dutch political agenda and subsequently sustained the issue on the policy agenda through the creation of a Delta Commissioner, a Delta Fund and a Delta Act. Our analysis illustrates how the crucial actors in and around the Second Delta Committee deployed strategies of puzzling, powering, and what we define as perpetuation to deal with the long-term policy issue of climate adaptation. The latter is especially important for policy issues that require a long-term continued effort by policy-makers, or will only manifest themselves on the long term. Then, it is not only important to create meaning and organize power now, but also to maintain and ensure that meaning and power for time to come.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2016.01.001, hdl.handle.net/1765/83716
Futures: the journal of policy, planning and futures studies
Department of Sociology

van der Steen, M., Chin-A-Fat, N., Vink, M., & van Twist, M. (2016). Puzzling, powering and perpetuating: Long-term decision-making by the Dutch Delta Committee. Futures: the journal of policy, planning and futures studies, 76, 7–17. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2016.01.001