Governance is defined here as control of the organisation managing a flood defence by the relevant authority in order to attain the required level of flood protection. This involves using the available resources efficiently. In effect, this comes down to government authorities fulfilling their public duties. However, it involves drawing on all elements that are required for, or may help in, the achievement of the objectives of flood risk management. To achieve these objectives, the FloodControl IJkdijk foundation drew on state-of-the-art expertise and the available products and technology, finding that a joint effort is desired, or even necessary, from the research institutes, commercial sector and government.

Flood risk management is a national policy issue. Flood protection is expressed as an acceptable risk, with levels of risk being laid down by law for primary flood defences and adopted by provincial authorities in the case of regional defences.

Within the confines of legislation and regulations, and the statutory safety assessment arrangements, management agencies are free to elaborate these risk levels in the ways they believe appropriate. This is referred to as their "active duty of care". It applies when it is not possible to arrive at an appraisal of flood risk on the basis of simple geometrical assessments or detailed assessments. Management agencies may, for example, assess structures in terms of their compliance with statutory standards. This means that innovative techniques and developments may, as a general rule, be used as long as the management agency can demonstrate that they comply with the statutory safety standards. However, the policy and the culture of the management agency must allow for this approach.

If, in broad terms, the policy allows for the use of innovations, they may be implemented by establishing partnerships with business. Innovations often involve different working methods, technologies and systems, and this results in different risks and requires different approaches to governance. It is important for both clients and contractors to be aware of this. Both parties will be working with new guiding principles in existing frameworks and so sound communications and proper consultation are required.

The situation outside the Netherlands will, inevitably, be different from the one sketched here. Legislation and regulations will be different, or even absent. Arrangements relating to the ownership or management of a flood defence vary and so tailored solutions will always be required. Further discussion will therefore focus on the Dutch situation with respect to the policy agenda, the duty of care, and the joint efforts focusing on innovation.