The Border-Meuse (Dutch: Grensmaas) section of the river Meuse forms the border between Belgium and The Netherlands. The Meuse enters The Netherlands below Maastricht and is named the ‘Grensmaas’ between the Borgharen dam and the Linne dam. In between, the river is free-flowing and considered natural. This section of the Meuse is not used for navigation and has seen substantial changes through the last decade through the implementation of the Grensmaas project. The Grensmaas project has nearly been implemented and is one of the success stories of climate change adaptation through nature-based solutions in The Netherlands. The riverbed has been widened through gravel extraction and nature can develop in the floodplains to increase water safety. Multiple ideas on how the ideal future river should look have been developed, which are shaped and reshaped by participatory and modeling practices. The materialized end-product is the result of negotiating these ideas. Current debates on the future of the river include ideas around the rights of nature/rivers, fish-friendly rivers, climate adaptation, and river quality initiatives.
Climate change adaptation has influenced river management through an anticipatory governance paradigm. As such, futures and the power of knowing the future have become increasingly influential in water management. Yet, multiple future imaginaries co-exist, where some are more dominant than others. In this PhD research, the focus is on deconstructing the future-making process in climate change adaptation by asking “what future-making tools and practices in the context of climate change adaptation influence river infrastructure for the Meuse and Magdalena rivers?”. Firstly, this investigation explores existing river imaginaries of diverse epistemic communities in both case studies. Secondly, it explores how imaginaries are materialized in tools and practices for climate change adaptation. It herein focuses on numerical models and participatory practices. Thirdly, this research explores how dominant imaginaries are contested and mobilized in climate change adaptation. The power of future-making is approached through a combination of Foucault and Butler’s conceptualization of power. Imaginaries are approached through a science and technology lens in combination with hydrosocial territories, and the imaginary holders are approached through the concept of epistemic communities. A focus on empirical research methods will guide theoretical findings. Finally, a reflection on the researcher’s own positionality in action-research will be presented – which will be an iterative process of learning and unlearning while navigating between the natural and social sciences.