Johan Kaspers

Johan Kaspers

Johan Kaspers, Netherlands

Johan Kaspers is an experienced manager in leisure. He started Brederode Leisure Consultancy in 2009 and carried out many strategic projects for governments and leisure organisations. For the last 4 years he played a unique role as an Experience Agent in the community project Experience the Waal, part of a larger water management scheme in the Dutch province of Gelderland. Following the success of this work, he now runs similar projects along the river IJssel and the Apeldoorn Canal. Up to founding his own consultancy Johan Kaspers has led several leisure companies as manager/director. His educational background includes a master degree at Wageningen University. He has spoken at conferences in the Netherlands and abroad, for example at Communicating The Museum 2015 and European Conference on Mobility Management 2016. He has been to Australia many times to visit family and enjoys its beautiful landscape and hospitable people.

Presentation Title: Experience The River Waal.

Experience The Waal is a unique project stimulating recreational and cultural projects with local communities in a sustainable way. The Waal is part of the Rhine system and Western Europes´ largest and busiest river. Experience the Waal is part of a larger programme called WaalWeelde (‘WaalWealth’) by the province of Gelderland, developing a safe and beautiful river. The main goals of Experience the Waal are a river that can be experienced and projects to better the local economy.

Experience the Waal started in 2012 with some 200 representatives from local businesses, cultural organisations, residents and governments. In the following months many ideas were proposed in workshops. From the large number of people involved, a smaller group formed a community of practice to develop ideas. The province provided this community of practice with a budget to organise people on a local scale. The work was aided by an Experience Agent supporting individual initiators, connecting people, organising meetings and helping to find money to realise projects.

Through the years the process led to a strong bond within the community of practice, as well as more than 30 new events and more than 10 tourist routes. Examples are river bank cleaning projects, open air theatre events and themed routes. In 2015 the community of practice led to the foundation Onze Waal (‘Our Waal’). Through the years the province has downsized its efforts and will in 2017 hand over the initiative to the foundation.

Key learnings are the successful addition of a community project to river management aimed at a socioeconomic impulse as well as enhancing local support for sometimes sensitive interventions. Delegates can learn from the good and bad experiences in the project, and translate (parts of the) formula and the do’s and don’ts to their own situation.

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