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  • Lessen uit ‘Wat wel kan’

    Lessen uit ‘Wat wel kan’

    Jack Kruf

    Er zijn niet vaak rapporten – mede door de omvang van de crisis op landelijk niveau (in Nederland) met betrekking tot het dossier stikstof – waar zo naar is uitgekeken dan het rapport van Johan Remkes: ‘Wat wel kan: Uit de impasse en een aanzet voor perspectief’

    Er zijn niet veel rapporten die de geschiedenis van Nederland in een dergelijke setting belichten. Geen rapporten waar de spelers op het veld zo helder en omonwonden worden neergezet, hun (eigen) belangen geduid, drives en gedrag beschreven.  

    Er is bijna geen rapport zo helder in het feit dat de besturing van het publieke domein – de Grondwet met publieke en persoonlijke waarden van burgers is basis – niet heeft geleverd en op onderdelen zelfs volledig heeft gefaald.

    De verklaringen hiervoor staan in het rapport. Het zijn geen afwijkingen van wat wij denken dat kunde van besturen zou moeten zijn uit academisch theoretisch perspectief of van onze ethiek van normen en waarden, Nee het blijken kernfactoren en -processen van de wereld van bestuurskunde zelve te zijn. Het is de wereld van de dagdagelijkse praktijk van politiek die in het rapport naar voren komt, waarin besturing zich toont in de vorm van macht en invloed. Machiavelli had gelijk. Dit is het resultaat van een collectieve zoektocht van decennia. Het is de Gestalt van de kunde van het besturen en van bestuurskunde: wiebelig en niet secuur.

    Wij allen zouden met dit rapport in de hand nu ernstig in de spiegel moeten kijken en ons diep schamen

    Het rapport is voer voor bestuurskundigen. Dit rapport legt een wereld van besturing bloot, die ik niet eerder heb gelezen of heb geleerd in de collegezalen der bestuurskunde. Het is alsof wij zelf niet kunnen voldoen aan wat wij vinden dat bestuurskunde zou moeten zijn. Dit rapport bewijst dat. Een kans doet zich voor om de besturing van Nederland – zo helder door de auteur geformuleerd – in hun wetenschap opnieuw door de handen te laten gaan, aan te scherpen, op onderdelen te herzien, uitgangspunten te herwegen c.q. te heroverwegen. Een kans om de wetenschap door te ontwikkelen en in dev praktijk te laten landen.

    Het rapport is zeker ook voer voor elke kiezer, elke bestuurder, volksvertegenwoordiger, bestuurder, manager, adviseur, controller, strateeg, beleidsmaker en dienstverlener in dienst van overheden, bedrijven, banken en adviesbureaus, voor elke consument, voor elke spaarder en belegger.

    Wij allen zouden met dit rapport in de hand nu ernstig in de spiegel moeten kijken en ons diep gaan zitten moeten schamen. Overigens het woord moeten komt zelf 99 keer voor in het rapport. Op zich is dit al een teken aan de wand. Het woord dat verschijnt als de externe drive vele malen groter is dan de interne drive, persoonlijk én zakelijk, privé en publiek.

    Ontwerp Kruf (2020), bron De Graaf (2012).

    Ik hoop dat dit rapport de klaslokalen ingaat om er (heel veel) van te leren. In mijn ogen heeft de wetenschap van bestuurskunde hier een leidende rol. Immers zij onderzoeken relevante mechanismen in het openbaar bestuur, doceren vele jonge mensen, managers, experts, bestuurders en zelfs adviseren aan het besturend kader van Nederland.

    Het woord moeten komt 99 keer voor in het rapport. Op zich is dit al een teken aan de wand.

    Hebben wij bestuurskundig iets over het hoofd gezien, dat dit zo uit de hand kon lopen? Wat is de reden dat wij in staat bleken effectief te navigeren naar wat wij wettelijk hebben verankerd inzake borging en bescherming van waarden voor dieren, mensen en natuur? Waarom zijn wij zo aan het tobben en vooruitschuiven? Het zijn hier lessen die geleerd (nog één keer dan)  moeten worden.

    Het rapport van Remkes zou aanleiding kunnen zijn een evaluatie van de wetenschap bestuurskunde te starten. Een prikkel voor de diverse universiteiten en hogescholen om de koppen eens bij elkaar te steken en te zien wat geleerd kan en moet worden.

    Het rapport is uniek in de Nederlandse geschiedenis en wellicht een turning point in de collectieve analyse van relevante vraagstukken. Ex ante in plaats van ex post is  daarbij wel een dingetje in wat wijzelf zo graag prediken over goede publieke sturing. Een rijke bron ligt voor ons. Aan de slag.

    Bibliografie

    Graaf, A. de en Kunst, K. (2012) Einstein en de kunst van het zeilen: Praktijkboek over leiderschap en communicatie. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij SWP.

    Kruf, J.P. (2020). My Word. Breda: Civitas Naturalis.

  • If Mayors Ruled the World

    If Mayors Ruled the World

    “C

    hallenges of our time —climate change, terrorism, poverty, and trafficking of drugs, guns, and people — the nations of the world seem paralysed. The problems are too big, entrenched, and divisive for the nation state. Is the nation state, once democracy’s best hope, today dysfunctional and obsolete?

    The answer, according Benjamin R. Barber, author of the book If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities, is yes.

    Barber asserts that cities, and the mayors that run them, offer the best new forces of good governance: “Why cities? Cities already occupy the commanding heights of the global economy. They are home to more than half of the world’s population, a proportion which will continue to grow. They are the primary incubator of the cultural, social, and political innovations which shape our planet. And most importantly, they are unburdened with the issues of borders and sovereignty which hobble the capacity of nation-states to work with one another.” 

    In his TedTalk in Edinburg, Scotland, he outlines is argumentation for this new approach.

    “Democracy is in trouble. No question about that. And it comes in part from a deep dilemma in which it is embedded.  It is increasingly irrelevant to the kind of decisions we face, that have to do with global pandemics (a cross-border problem), with HIV (a transnational problem with markets in immigration, something that goes beyond national borders), with terrorism, with war. All now cross-border problems all now. In fact we live in a 21st century world of interdependence and interdependent approval, interdependent problems.

    And when we look for solutions in politics and democracy we are faced with political institutions designed four hundred years ago. Autonomous, sovereign nation-states with jurisdictions and territories separate from one another each claiming to be able to solve the problem of its own people. 21st Century transnational world of problems and challenges seventeenth century world of political institutions.

    In that dilemma lies the central problem of democracy. And like many others I’ve been thinking about what can one do about this. This asymmetry between 21st century challenges and archaic and increasingly dysfunctional political institutions like nation-states.”

    Bibliography

    Barber, B. (2013) If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities. New Haven, US: Yale University Press.

  • De Nederlandse Corporate Governance Code

    De Nederlandse Corporate Governance Code


    Monitoring Commissie Corporate Governance Code, 2016

    De Nederlandse corporate governance code (hierna: de Code) richt zich op de governance van beursgenoteerde vennootschappen en geeft een richtsnoer voor effectieve samenwerking en bestuur.

    Governance gaat over besturen en beheersen, over verantwoordelijkheid en zeggenschap en over toezicht en verantwoording.

    Het doel van de Code is het met of in relatie tot wet- en regelgeving bewerkstelligen van een deugdelijk en transparant stelsel van checks and balances binnen Nederlandse beursgenoteerde vennootschappen en het daartoe reguleren van de verhoudingen tussen het bestuur, de raad van commissarissen en de algemene vergadering/aandeelhouders.

    Naleving van de Code draagt bij aan het vertrouwen in goed en verantwoord bestuur van vennootschappen en hun inbedding in de maatschappij.

    De Code is voor het eerst vastgesteld in 2003 en eenmalig gewijzigd in 2008. Op verzoek van het Christelijk Nationaal Vakverbond, Eumedion, de Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging, Euronext NV, de Vereniging van Effectenbezitters, de Vereniging van Effecten Uitgevende Ondernemingen en de Vereniging VNO-NCW is de Code aangepast door de Monitoring Commissie Corporate Governance Code (hierna: de Commissie). Voortschrijdende ontwikkelingen, de tijdgeest en overlap met wetgeving zijn aanleiding geweest om de Code aan te passen. Onderhavige Code vervangt de Code uit 2008.

    Reikwijdte

    De Code is van toepassing op:

      • alle vennootschappen met statutaire zetel in Nederland waarvan de aandelen of certificaten van aandelen zijn toegelaten tot de handel op een gereglementeerde markt of een daarmee vergelijkbaar systeem; en
      • alle grote vennootschappen met statutaire zetel in Nederland (> € 500 miljoen balanswaarde) waarvan de aandelen of certificaten zijn toegelaten tot de handel op een multilaterale handelsfaciliteit of een daarmee vergelijkbaar systeem.

    Voor de toepassing van de Code worden met houders van aandelen gelijk gesteld de houders van certificaten van aandelen die met medewerking van de vennootschap zijn uitgegeven. De Code is niet van toepassing op een beleggingsinstelling of instelling voor collectieve belegging in effecten die geen beheerder is in de zin van artikel 1:1 Wet op het financieel toezicht.

    Inhoud van de Code
    De Code bevat principes en best practice bepalingen die de verhouding reguleren tussen het bestuur, de raad van commissarissen en de algemene vergadering/aandeelhouders. De principes en bepalingen zijn gericht op de invulling van verantwoordelijkheden voor lange termijn waardecreatie, beheersing van risico’s, effectief bestuur en toezicht, beloningen en de relatie met (de algemene vergadering van) aandeelhouders en stakeholders.

    De principes kunnen worden opgevat als breed gedragen algemene opvattingen over goede corporate governance. De principes zijn uitgewerkt in best practice bepalingen. Deze bepalingen bevatten normen voor het gedrag van bestuurders, commissarissen en aandeelhouders. Zij geven de ‘best practice’ weer en zijn een invulling van de algemene beginselen van goede corporate governance. Vennootschappen kunnen hiervan gemotiveerd afwijken. De voorwaarden voor afwijking worden hierna onder ‘Naleving van de Code’ toegelicht.

    De verhouding tussen de vennootschap en haar werknemers (-vertegenwoordigers) is bij wet geregeld. In de Code komt deze verhouding aan bod in bepalingen die betrekking hebben op cultuur en de contacten tussen de raad van commissarissen en het medezeggenschapsorgaan.

    De Nederlandse Corporate Governance Code 2016

  • A survivor of vast forgotten woods

    Margaret Wise Brown (author), Leonard Weisgard (illustrator) (1950) The Dark Wood of the Golden Birds. New York City: Harper & Brothers.

    As they listened, they began to understand the lives of the Forest, apart from themselves, indeed to feel themselves as the strangers where all other things were at home. […] Tom’s words laid bare the hearts of trees and their thoughts, which were dark and strange, and filled with a hatred of things that go free upon the earth, gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning: destroyers and usurpers.

    It was not called the Old Forest without reason, for it was indeed ancient, a survivor of vast forgotten woods; and in there lived yet, ageing no quicker than the hills, the fathers of the fathers of trees, remembering times when they were lords. The countless years had filled them with pride and rooted wisdom, and with malice.Tolkien (1954)


    Bibliography

    Tolkien, J. (2014) The Fellowship of the Ring [The Lord of the Rings, part 1, ed. 60]. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

  • L’ architecture de la forêt guyanaise

    L’ architecture de la forêt guyanaise

    This work was the subject of a thesis defended on 16 December 1972 at the University of Sciences and Techniques of Languedoc by ir. Roelof A.A. Oldeman, to obtain the grade of Doctor of Natural Sciences. He received it, this with highest honours (summa cum laude). Top scientist George Mangenot expressed his honour as follows.

    “The main thing in Oldeman’s work is that he created a methodology made up of a whole set of perfectly articulated morphogenetic, ecological and physiological concepts allowing the structural analysis of the populations of trees, mostly dicots, in all regions of the world. A recent, unpublished essay by the author on a Massachusetts forest showed that it is possible, by the methods tried in Guyana, to explain it and to understand the profound differences distinguishing it from equatorial forests. The flexible and adaptable character of the oldemanian system is thus highlighted. This work, which testifies to a very imaginative and creative spirit, is called to a great resonance.”
     
    Profile of a patch of forest of about 30 X 40 m in the Saül region, at an altitude of 285 m. Thick line: trees of the whole of the present; dotted and shaded: trees of the future set; thin line: standing or fallen trees from the past as a whole; thick dotted line: trees outside the plot. Structural sets at about 15 m, 40 m and 55 m Oldeman (1974).

    Oldeman summarises on p.78 one of his core conclusions after years of research: “The forest is characterized by its trees. In the first part, we examined the rules to which tree growth obeys, expressed in an architecture peculiar to each species, but whose principle can be identified in relation to some twenty tree models. These criteria make it possible to distinguish three sets of forest trees:

      • The whole of the future includes young trees, who, conforming to the initial model, often regenerated, will give structure to the future forest.
      • The whole of the present brings together the trees having reached, by an abundant reiteration and growth in thickness, their maximum biomass and which determine the current architecture of the forest; the whole present is subdivided into structural sets at different heights. Forest architecture is stratified; the relative density of the trees in each set determines the good or bad visibility of “strata.”
      • Lastly, the whole of the past includes trees in the process of being eliminated, traces of previous structures more or less blurring the architecture of the present.

    It is worth remembering that seeds and active meristems are the exclusive producers of forest biomass; they form the entire infrastructure of the forest

    A fourth forest complex is clearly visible in the windfall. It brings together the seeds and active meristems, in contrast with forest layers where these organs are mostly latent. It is worth remembering that seeds and active meristems are the exclusive producers of forest biomass; they form the entire infrastructure of the forest.”

    Oldeman explains his way of working on p.81: “The survey of a profile and a plan of a forest plot in the described biotope was carried out without taking into account the undergrowth, in a layer less than ten meters, because we are studying the framework of the architecture forestry. This is why the parcel was chosen in a place where the undergrowth had been recently removed for the entomological mission. The area of ​​the plot was approximately 30 X 40 meters, more than sufficient for an architectural study of the forest, the structural continuity of which outside the plot was easy to verify by direct observation. It goes without saying that this method cannot be applied during an inventory targeting another aspect of the forest, such as phytosociology, floristics or forest size.

    The plot plan was established by locating the topographical position of the trunks of all the trees and estimating the extent of the projection of their tops on the ground. The diameters of the trunks and the dimensions of any buttresses were measured at the same time and entered on the blank. The heights – total height, free trunk – were then determined using a Blume-Leiss dendrometer. Finally, sketches of the architecture of each tree were made in the field; their perspective deformations were corrected, using height measurements, on the final profile).” Ω


    Bibliography

    Oldeman, R.A.A. (1974a, 2nd ed.). L’architecture de la forêt guyanaise. Mémoires ORSTOM, 73.

    Download L’architecture de la forêt guyanaise (french)

    It is this dissertation Oldeman invented, in fact designed an advanced, innovative and integrated approach of diagnosing the forest. The reinvention of  these geometrical transects are groundbreaking. They supply us with insights in the dynamics of the forest. The factor ‘time’ has been brought in. The strength of the transect was underlined by the strong visual recognition of these forest maps by the local indigenous people. They were able to exactly pinpoint the habitats and niches for numerous specious living in the forest. Remarkable.

  • Fascinerend leven

    Fascinerend leven

    Dit boek is geeft een bijzonder overzicht van de verschillende denkwijzen en opvattingen hoe tegen ecosystemen aan te kijken. Het verrijkt de inzichten die passen bij de missie van de stichting. Het is geschreven en samengesteld door Johan van Braeckman* en Linda van Van Speybroeck* en wordt uitgegeven door Academia Press.

    Het geeft op zeer gedegen wijze aan welke opvattingen en inzichten inzake natuur en haar wetenschappen doorheen de jaren er zijn geweest en bundelt perspectieven op behoud en ontwikkeling van natuurlijke ecosystemen. Het voedt de gedachten over integrale publieke sturing.

    De voorbije decennia is de aandacht voor biologie, zowel in de wijsbegeerte, de geschiedenis als in andere disciplines, sterk gestegen. De biologie wordt nu al de wetenschap van de 21ste eeuw genoemd. De filosofie van de biologie werd een volwaardige wijsgerige discipline en belangrijke biologen en wetenschapshistorici gaven de geschiedenis van de biologie de plaats die ze verdient.

    Fascinerend leven: Een geschiedenis van de biologie bundelt 22 teksten over telkens één of meerdere kernfiguren: van Aristoteles en Galenus tot Charles Darwin en Francis Crick; van René Descartes en Gregor Mendel tot Niko Tinbergen en Rachel Carson. Aandacht gaat uit naar de ontwikkeling van hun natuurwetenschappelijk denken en hoe zich dit verhoudt ten opzichte van de toen heersende denkbeelden. Vier wetenschappers reflecteren tot slot over het heden en de toekomst van de biologie.

    *De samenstellers van dit boek delen een gemeenschappelijke belangstelling voor zowel de wetenschappelijke, filosofische als historische aspecten van de biologie. Lien Van Speybroeck behaalde een doctoraat aan de Universiteit Gent met een proefschrift over de filosofische aspecten van de epigenetica. Johan Braeckman specialiseerde zich in Charles Darwin en de evolutietheorie, en doceert onder meer geschiedenis van de biologie aan de Universiteit Gent. Ω

  • Wild Design: Nature’s Architects

    Wild Design: Nature’s Architects

    Dit boek is een bron van inspiratie. Het is geschreven en samengesteld door Kimberly Ridley is uitgegeven door Princeton Architectural Press. Het geeft op zeer beknopte wijze aan welke universele patronen in de natuur kunnen worden aangetroffen en welke taal de natuur spreekt. Het moedigt aan naar buiten te gaan en de wereld te ontdekken.

    Wild Design onthult de wonderen van de natuurlijke wereld zoals nooit eerder gezien, door middel van de prachtige, buitengewone en functionele vormen gemaakt door dieren, planten en andere organismen overal om ons heen.


    Kunst en wetenschap lopen mooi in elkaar over in deze fascinerende verkenning van structuren en vormen die in de natuur voorkomen, verteld door middel van levendige essays en meesterlijke vintage illustraties. Verlies jezelf in de betoverende microscopische “glazen” omhulsels van juweelachtige diatomeeën. Ga op in de mysterieuze ondergrondse schimmelnetwerken die het grote ontwerp van bossen vormgeven. Ontdek de verrassend ingewikkelde en gevarieerde nesten van vogels. Wild Design herinnert ons eraan dat opmerkelijke fenomenen overal om ons heen voorkomen – we moeten alleen weten hoe we ze kunnen vinden.

  • Dutch Code for Good Public Administration

    Dutch Code for Good Public Administration

    Principles of proper public administration, published by the central government of The Netherlands in June 2009


    BY JACK P. KRUF | AUGUST 2022

    In finding the tone of the city it is essential to determine the character and quality of the governmental navigation by the involved and responsible actors as well as the objects of governance (citizens, businesses and society). Which criteria could possibly be developed to measure and monitor. In 2009 in The Netherlands the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations published a set of usable principles in the form of a code.

    Minister Dr G. ter Horst in her foreword: “In The Netherlands, the principles of the democratic constitutional state form the framework for our functioning. Citizens and government must give substance to them together. The government cannot do this without the citizens; the citizens cannot do this without the government. This reciprocity requires the right balance of rights and duties between citizens on the one hand, and the government on the other.

    The rights and duties of citizens are laid down in formal laws and regulations. In addition, the Charter on Responsible Citizenship makes an informal, moral appeal to citizens to be active and responsible members of society.

    There are also many formal laws and regulations governing the functioning of public administration. Precisely because of their formal nature, these laws and regulations do not necessarily invite self-reflection. As a result, we would almost lose sight of why we have all these laws and regulations: to meet social needs within the framework of the democratic constitutional state.

    The Code of Good Public Administration sets out the basic principles of good public administration in our democratic constitutional state. It is an informal instrument that appeals to the individual responsibility of administrations to conscientiously fulfil their tasks and responsibilities in public administration. It invites self-reflection and translation into daily practice.

    I ask that special attention be given to integrity. We can lay down as much as we like in formal laws and regulations and informal codes; ultimately, the individual and collective integrity of directors is essential. Just like the individual and collective integrity of those who control them. Unfortunately, even in public administration there are occasional examples of lack of integrity and the negative consequences thereof.

    It is precisely the people who fulfil individual and collective tasks and responsibilities in public administration, who serve all of our interests; it is precisely they who must set a good example. This is how we earn the citizens’ trust in the government. This is how we stimulate active and responsible citizenship. This is how government and citizens together can give substance to the functioning of our democratic constitutional state.”

    Introduction

    Good public administration is essential for the functioning of our democratic constitutional state. Without good public administration, there cannot be a healthy interaction between government and society and the government cannot meet social needs.

    This code describes what good public administration means for the boards of individual organisations in the public administration in the Netherlands, both at central and decentralised level.

    Good public administration, even in a prosperous and developed country such as the Netherlands, is not a matter of course. Even the fact that political and social interests are democratically legitimated does not offer an absolute guarantee in this respect. This code urges boards of organisations in public administration to make and keep alive the principles of good governance in their daily practice, and offers a frame of reference for others to call them to account on this.

    The code does not contain any legally enforceable standards. There is already a great deal of legislation and regulation regulating government action, including the general principles of good governance. The values underlying these laws and regulations are made explicit in the code. They are the shared values on which public administration operates. The code invites people to translate these values into their own situation and to take action: to actively disseminate them within and outside the organisation, to set an example and to be accountable for good governance. Existing initiatives can be used for this purpose.

    The principles should be seen in connection with each other. In practice, principles will sometimes need to be weighed against each other. For example, a legitimate decision need not always be the most effective decision. It is important that boards make their considerations consciously and are open about them. The public interest always comes first: public administration is there for and on behalf of citizens.

    Good public administration requires maintenance and continuous attention. The code ‘lives’ when boards apply it conscientiously and report on it publicly on a regular basis.

    Principles

      1. Openness and integrity: The board is open and honest and makes it clear what it means by this. The board sets a good example in its behaviour, both within the organisation and externally.
      2. Participation: The board knows what is going on in society and shows what it does with this. 
      3. Appropriate contacts with citizens: The board ensures that itself and the organisation behave properly in contacts with citizens.
      4. Goal-orientation and efficiency: The board announces the goals of the organisation and takes the decisions and measures necessary to achieve the goals set.
      5. Legitimacy: The board takes the decisions and measures it is entitled to take and which are in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations. The decisions can be justified.
      6. Learning and self-cleansing ability: The board improves its performance and that of the organisation, and organises the organisation accordingly.
      7. Accountability: The board is prepared to regularly and generously account for its actions to those around it.
  • Resilience of what to what?

    Resilience is relatively new in public governance thinking. Can it be of help in finding the tone of city, society and nature?


    BY JACK P. KRUF | APRIL 2018

    What is resilience? Well, there is no simple answer to this. Especially not regarding that of the ecosystem of a city. The concept, you might say, is in development in different sciences and recently entered the public governance domain related to the social-ecological system of society. Can resilience as indicator of the state of an ecosystem be measured? And if so, how are the living and non-living factors within and outside the measured system be calculated? Can it create true insight in the tone of city, society and nature. A first exploration of definitions.

    Resilient City.

    The resilient city can bounce or roll back to its equilibrium. The red dot is the metaphoric colour for the city. It is Poppy Red, inspired by the resilience of the City of Ypres.

    Resilience is the new buzzword under public leaders and managers. Millions of years it played an essential role in natural ecosystems, now it has been launched as a new concept for thinking and acting from government perspective. But where is it about? The ability to endure stress and still be able to perform or the capacity to recover after a catastrophe? Maybe both?

    The question can not be answered or even is meaningless without putting it in the context resilience of what to what? In our approach we focus on the resilience of the ecosystem city to specific external (abiotic, climate change)) or internal (biotic, virus attack) caused disturbances.

    “Resilience has multiple levels of meaning: as a metaphor related to sustainability, as a property of dynamic models, and as a measurable quantity that can be assessed in field studies of socioecological system (SES). The operational indicators of resilience have, however, received little attention in the literature. To assess a system’s resilience, one must specify which system configuration and which disturbances are of interest.”

    – Carpenter et al. (2001)

    Holling (1973) introduced the word resilience into the ecological literature as a way of helping to understand the non-linear dynamics observed in ecosystems. Since then the concept diversified in all directions. Resilience is wide interpreted and used, it is a difficult to understand concept and therefore possibly of limited use for precise diagnosis and related public governance. Like accountability, the new normal, alignment, roadmap, risk, streamline and sustainability it can become a container or a buzzword.

    “Resilience,” like love, is difficult to define, yet everyone – from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to government agencies, company boards, and community groups – is talking about how to build or maintain it. So, is resilience a useful concept or a meaningless buzzword?

    – Brian Walker (2015)

    For the core definition of resilience, we might to go back to the forest. It is a simple and therefore generally applicable definition.

    ‘Resilience is the ability to bounce back, basically in the face of disturbance, maintaining functions and structures of the system and recovering from the disturbance.”

    – Rupert Seidl (2019)

    The resilience of the ecosystem city is telling the story of the balancing act of the population in the present habitat of the city. Of course, there are many layers of habitats within the city and some justify to zoom in and consider resilience on a lower level. In general, it is like when you have plans to investing your money in stocks and funds: results in the past are no guarantee for the future.

    It is with resilience like looking into the mirror: you know where you are and where you come from, not so much about where you are going and what will happen. It is hard to predict how future external developments influence the habitat of communities and whether they will exceed the resilience of the system and whether the system is able to tackle change properly.

    To let resilience successfully – and Brian Walker (2017) from Resilience Alliance underlines the (urgent) need for this – enter the stage of public governance, it is wise to start with using it always in the context resilience of what to what (Carpenter et al., 2001). There is lots of work to be done for bringing in a proper landing place for resilience into the public domain. The first steps are there.

    One thing stands out. In finding the tone of city, society and nature, the measurement of resilience can be helpful. But it is very complex. For that it has to develop further towards a more complete and refined concept. The of what to what question has to be built in.

    Bibliography

    Carpenter, S., Walker, B., Anderies, J. and Abel, N. (2001) From Metaphor to Measurement: Resilience of What to What?. Ecosystems 4, 765–781. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-001-0045-9

    Holling, C.S. (1973) Resilience and Stability of Ecological Systems. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics. Vol. 4:1-23 (Volume publication date November 1973). https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.es.04.110173.000245

    Seidl, R. (2019) Voices of Resilience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=755F__a5agM

    Walker, B. (2015) What is resilience?. Project Syndicate. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/what-is-resilience-by-brian-walker?barrier=accesspaylog

    Walker, B. (2017). Brian Walker at Resilience 2017. Stockholm: Omställningsnätverket Transition Network Sweden.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6G2-IFfRwzM

    Image: Kruf, J. (2020) Resilient City. Breda: Civitas Naturalis.

  • The Essence of Tree Roots

    Are tree roots to bring in analogy of what happens on election day?


    BY JACK P. KRUF | NOVEMBER 2019

    The wisdom of life, the book with all its guidelines and secrets, the codex, can actually be found in the forest. Codex is derived from the Latin caudex, meaning “trunk of a tree”. The lowest part of the trunk, that connect to the roots, is where two worlds meet in the binding principles of life, that of ‘above ground’ and that of ‘under ground’.

    It is here where the soul of the forest can be found, the market place where all traffic streams from earth (upwards, water, minerals) and sun and air (downwards sugars, after photosynthesis) are exchanged, the roundabout on the highway of life.

    It is this meeting point where growth and development are coordinated, the place where past, present and future meet, the counterpoint where life starts. Vincent van Gogh painted this meeting point, Tree Roots, as only he was able to do so: colourful and straight to the heart. He understood. It was his last painting, ‘digging deep’ into the essence of life.

    Translating, transposing or transforming the scene from forest to society. Is it a thought that an election day can be considered as the trunk/root meeting point of our democracy, and therefore be perceived as the soul of the ecosystem of society?

    The upward stream – empowering votes followed by (tax) money – can be imagined as that of water and minerals. In the downward stream giving power to the trees – the public leaders and politicians – to build, protect and care. It is a dream scenario. Daily practice proofs otherwise.

    In finding the tone of city and society it is here, at the trunk-roots interface where the determinants and indicators can be found in the process of democracy, of governing and be governed. Studying the promises before and the realisations after election day creates insights into the tone. The trunk and the roots lead us to the codex of measuring the tone.

    Bibliography

    Gogh, V.  van (1890) Tree Roots [oil on canvas]. Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum.