Dr. ir. Dries Hegger

Assistant Professor
Environmental Governance
Associate Professor
Environmental Governance

“Let's go beyond 'space is scarce' and 'not everything is possible': I am looking for strategies for regional water and climate governance in the 21st century.”


Research focus: citizen engagement in regional water- and climate governance, improved science-policy interactions through knowledge co-creation


Dries Hegger is an Associate Professor of regional water and climate governance at Utrecht University. 


Societal decision-making about scarce space 

Many sustainability challenges come down to a scarcity of space. The energy transition requires space; climate change adaptation requires space; sustainable agriculture requires space. At the same time, space is needed for housing, travelling and amenities. This is why spatial sustainability challenges can easily become politicized. All of us, in our capacity as a citizen, policymakers, politician entrepreneur, parents and so forth will be affected by sustainability transformations, both those ongoing and those in the years and decades to come. How can we improve societal decision-making in such a way that we maximize the solution space, but at the same time are enabled to reach fair and legitimate compromises once tough political choices are on the table? 


Practically relevant research 

Dries Hegger has published about both key topics of citizen engagement and science-policy interactions in peer-reviewed journals. In addition to that, he has collaborated with various societal actors on these issues, both Dutch stakeholders operating at the regional and national level, nationally and internationally operating consultancy firms and international organizations. Hegger carried out projects on:

  • water governance
  • flood risk governance
  • knowledge co-creation in regional climate adaptation projects
  • relationships between water companies and consumers
  • innovation in wastewater management systems in a Western context. 

He is a member of the board of the hub ‘Water, Climate and Future Deltas’ within the university-wide theme ‘Pathways to Sustainability’.


Areas of interest:

  • Floating urbanisation
  • Water-aware developments in society
  • Stormwater management and vulnerable social groups