Project leaders

Dr. James Patterson is a Senior Researcher at The Netherlands Open University and a Research Fellow in the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is a social science researcher in environmental governance, and leads the INNOVCITIES project. His research interests include: institutional change, adaptive governance, cities, and sustainability transformations. Previously James was a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Water Policy and Governance Group at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and conducted his PhD research at the University of Queensland, Australia. Prior to this, James worked as a Research Consultant in urban water policy and planning at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney, conducting project-based research for diverse clients (e.g. government agencies and authorities, private sector). He was originally trained in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of New South Wales, Australia (1st Class Honours).


Dr. Dave Huitema is a Professor of Environmental Policy at the Netherlands Open University and the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is a political and policy scientist, and deputy chair of the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis at the IVM. His research interests include policy learning & experimentation, policy entrepreneurs, and policy innovation in polycentric systems. Dave leads a research cluster on adaptive governance involving about 15 colleagues from the IVM and other institutions. He is Vice-Chair of European Cooperation in Science and Technology (‘COST’) Action: ‘Innovations in Climate Governance’, which spans 29 countries. Dave is author and (co-editor) of several books and many peer reviewed articles on issues related to water and environmental governance, and has won several distinguished prizes for his work from professional bodies in the fields of policy and public administration.

Current research team members


Douwe de Voogt is a Junior Researcher at The Netherlands Open University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, working primarily on the European CAPFLO project, and is also a Research Assistant on the INNOVCITIES project. Douwe completed his MSc thesis working under INNOVCITIES in 2016, in the Environment and Resource Management program at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, specializing in Water and Climate policy. Previous to his participation in this MSc, Douwe completed the BSc Future Planet Studies at the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA), also including an extracurricular Honours Programme. His areas of interest include environmental policymaking and water (supply) governance.

Collaborating researchers


Dr. Raoul Beunen is an Assistant Professor Environmental Governance at the Open University, the Netherlands. His research explores the potentials and limitations of environmental policy and planning in the perspective of adaptive governance and sustainability. Particular attention is given to topics like policy implementation and integration, multi-level governance, place-making and place branding processes, participatory approaches and the performance of legal institutions. He has published widely on these issues, drawing on numerous empirical studies and different theoretical perspectives. He is co-founder of Evolutionary Governance Theory, a novel framework for analysing and explaining the dynamics and patterns of change and innovation in governance.


Dr. Stefania Munaretto is Senior Researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU University Amsterdam, working in environmental policy and governance with a focus on water and climate. At IVM she conducts research in the context of EU funded projects, and is involved in teaching and students supervision. She currently is involved in the EU DG-ECHO funded project CAPFLO (2016-2017) that aims at increasing local resilience capacity for flood mitigation in 5 EU urban river stretches in The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy and France. Within the project she leads the design and implementation of a participatory tool for building social and civic capacity for flood mitigation. Her research interests include adaptive governance, science-policy interactions, policy change, policy entrepreneurship, policy experimentation, policy instrument design, learning and participatory decision-making. She works and publishes on these issues drawing on various empirical studies in the field of water and climate change as well as different theoretical perspectives. As research methodologies she has gained experience with case study analysis, international case studies comparisons, policy games and simulations, focus groups, interviews, and surveys.

Dr. Rodolfo Sapiens is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile. He works on the social psychology dimensions of climate change, with a PhD from The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and a Master of Community Psychology from Universidad de Chile. He currently works as Research Associate at the Center of Science and Climate Resilience (CR2), Chile, and directs the project PAI CONICYT “Integrating psychological knowledge and the study of social dynamics in addressing climate change in Chile” funded by the Government of Chile. His main research areas are related to socio-environmental conflicts, human dimension of climate change and environmental governance. 


Former team members

Jekaterina Spiridonova completed her thesis working under the INNOVCITIES project in 2017, in the Environment and Resource Management program at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, focusing on urban responses to climate change in energy sector. Prior to this, Jekaterina completed the bachelor program Economics and Business Administration with specialization Sustainability in Aarhus University, Denmark. Key topics of interest include: multi-level climate change governance, innovations for climate change mitigation, and company initiatives to reduce harmful impacts on the environment.

Hila Rotbart pic for site

Hila Rotbart completed her MSc thesis working under the INNOVCITIES project in 2016, in the Environment and Resource Management program at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, specializing in Water and Climate Policy. Previously, Hila worked as co-manager of an Environmental Education Department in Israel, initiating and consulting municipal authorities regarding environmental educational projects, in order to implement and encourage sustainable behavior in various sectors in the community. She graduated with honors a B.Sc program of Environmental Health Science from Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem, an interdisciplinary program that combines Biology, Chemistry, Medicine, social science and Engineering. Her research interests include institutional change in local government towards adaptation to climate change in urban water governance.


Annie Colarusso completed her MSc thesis working under the INNOVCITIES project in 2016, in the Environment and Resource Management program at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, with a specialization in Water and Climate Policy.  Annie is now an Urban Fellow in the New York Mayor’s Office, located in the Office of Recovery and Resiliency. Before enrolling in the MSc program, she completed an Honors degree in History (summa cum laude) at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Her research interests include environmental justice, urban governance, and the influence of historic legacies on the access and distribution of environmental services.

D Ismangil

David Ismangil completed an internship under the INNOVCITIES project, within an MSc in Climate Studies at Wageningen University, specializing in Earth System Science. He has a background in History and Future Planet Studies, specializing in International Development Studies. David’s research interests are the practice of (sustainable) adaptation in rural and urban settings, (extreme) climate hazards and disasters, and climate governance.


Maartje van der Knaap completed the MSc study program Urban Environmental Management at Wageningen University, with a major specialisation in environmental policy and governance, and a minor specialisation in sustainable water management. She is associated with the INNOVCITIES project via preparations for PhD study in the future. Before the master, she completed the bachelor program International Development Studies (cum laude). She participated in a research consultancy program in Braga (Portugal) to assess causes and solutions for the city’s water management problems. Topics of interest: urban governance, water management, city resilience, equity and social justice, sustainable (urban) development.