Prof Jeroen van der Heijden


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Researcher's projects

  • Joined-up governance for low-carbon cities; VIDI funded research (2017-2021)

Cities have the potential to substantially contribute to climate change mitigation. Seeking to realise this potential, city governments are increasingly collaborating directly with firms and citizens in urban governance. This approach to governance has become known as joined-up governance. It is progressively recognised as a promising means of addressing complex urban challenges, including the necessary transition to low-carbon cities.

Joined-up governance has, however, been more theorized than empirically studied. Little is known about whether, to what extent, or in what ways joined-up governance ‘works’. This holds particularly in the area of low-carbon city development and transformation. This research project will address this major gap in our current understanding by evaluating and refining theorising on joined-up urban governance.

The project is theoretically innovative because it complements joined-up governance theorising with state-of-the-art insights from environmental governance and urban transformation studies. This adapts the lens provided by joined-up governance scholars to studying real-world city transformations. It is empirically innovative because of its systematic, critical analysis of joined-up urban governance practice in eight global cities in developed and rapidly developing economies. This will improve understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of this approach to governance for low-carbon city development and transformation around the globe.

  • Collaborative Governance for Urban Sustainability and Resilience; DECRA funded research (2015 - 2018)

There is a pressing need to improve the resource sustainability of cities and their resilience to hazards. Increasingly, governments seek to achieve such improvement by engaging directly with businesses and citizens. Whilst this collaborative city governance holds a promise for transforming resource use and resilience of cities, little is known about its performance benefits and effectiveness. The project addresses this knowledge gap through a systematic empirical analysis of a series of collaborations in four global cities. Results will help to refine theories of collaborative governance and will provide policymakers and practitioners with lessons on how to improve sustainability and resilience of cities in Australia and elsewhere.


  • The Voluntary Environmental Governance project; VENI funded research (2011 - 2016)
 The Voluntary Environmental Governance project investigates an emerging trend of governance arrangements that aim to improve their participants’ environmental performance without the traditional force of law. It examines the conditions for the successful implementation of such arrangements and questions how they relate to and interact with existing environmental legislation.

Examples of Voluntary Environmental Governance are green building rating tools, forest management schemes, and packaging waste agreements. Such arrangements are considered promising alternatives or complements to existing environmental legislation. However, current theorizing falls short to sufficiently explain what forms of Voluntary Environmental Governance may be successful in what contextual settings.

The research will generate empirical advances and theoretical innovation through the comparative study of various examples of Voluntary Environmental Governance in different countries and different policy areas. This will provide an improved knowledge base for the development of informed and effective forms of Voluntary Environmental Governance to supplement existing environmental legislation.

The research program is based at the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University, and the Amsterdam Law School at the University of Amsterdam.

For more information, please visit


Three past projects are:
  • The Lead Market Initiative and Sustainable Construction (2010-2011)

Screening of the implementation of sustainability requirements in EU member states ’ construction codes. The objective of the study is to assess how the construction  regulatory systems have evolved so as to integrate sustainable development  objectives, and whether this process could become more cohesive at EU level. We furthermore aim our research lens at voluntary sustainable construction initiatives as these might be or become drivers for later formal regulation.

Jeroen's role: Researcher, co-author of research design and tender
Grant: Commission of the European Communities
Academic relevance: Testing and further developing theories on regulation and enforcement, and voluntary and self-regulatory initiatives
Methodology: Mixed methods, qualitative and quantitative

  • Analysis of the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive in the Netherlands (2010)

The WFD stipulates that EU member states need to take certain measures to improve water quality. We aim our research lens at the formal and informal organizational structures of implementation of the WFD in the Netherlands since 2000. We are especially interested in how these structures have evolved and how these structures are valued by the actors involved. We take up a mixed methods approach: interviews with over 50 key-actors to get a general overview and in-depth insight, an online survey (n=295) to get insight in whether and why the implementation is valued differently by different groups of actors involved, and a series of panel discussions to further validate our findings.

Jeroen's role: Project team leader and researcher, co-author of research design and tender         
Client: Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Management
Academic relevance: Testing and further developing theories on incremental institutional change
Methodology: Mixed methods, qualitative and quantitative

  • Privatizing Dutch building code enforcement (2009-2011)

In response to a 2008 governmental advice, the Dutch Minister of Housing, Urban Planning and the Environment has decided to carry out a number of experiments that aim at gaining insight into the effects of privatizing the enforcement of building codes. In 2009 I have advised the Ministry on this plan and have drawn up a heuristic framework for carrying out the experiments. Between 2009 and 2011, I worked with the Ministry to evaluate the various experiments.

Jeroen's role: Researcher, author of research design and tender
Client: Dutch Minister of Housing, Urban Planning and the Environment
Academic relevance: Testing and further developing theories on governance reform and privatization, and regulation and enforcement
Methodology: Mixed methods, qualitative and quantitative


Professor Jeroen van der Heijden is the inaugural Chair of Regulatory Practice at the School of Governance, University of Wellington, New Zealand (School of Government) and Honorary Professor at the School of Regulation and Global Governance, the Australian National University, Australia.

He works at the intersection of regulation and governance, with a specific interest in regulatory stewardship and dynamic governance regimes. The Chair's research aims to help to find suitable local, national and international governance responses to some of the most pressing challenges of our time: urbanization, climate change, resource depletion, and growing inequalities across the world population. 

Since 2011, Professor van der Heijden has lead three large-scale international comparative research projects on urban climate governance, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and the Australian Research Council. He will continue this research track as part of the Chair's work. Jeroen has published widely on regulation and governance, including urban climate governance, including six books and more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals. His CV is available here:

Whilst at the ANU, Professor van der Heijden maintained a blog on urban climate governance ( and at the University of Wellington, he maintains a blog on regulation and governance (


Research interests

Areas of interest:
  • Regulation and governance
  • Regulatory regimes (command and control, hybrids and voluntarism)
  • Regulatory enforcement
  • Voluntary environmental programs

Empirical focus

  • Governance for urban sustainability
  • Governance for urban resilience
  • Climate change and environmental policies

Methodological interest:

  • Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)
  • Comparative method (and how to strengthen it)

Current student projects

Jeroen is an experienced educator. At the ANU, he developed the flagship RegNet course, Regulation and Governance (ASIA8052/9052). Jeroen has taught and convened this course on a yearly basis since 2012, to consistently strong positive feedback from participating Masters and PhD students. In October 2014 his sustained and proven education track record was recognised by the UK based Higher Education Academy (HEA), and Dr Van der Heijden is now a Fellow of the HEA.

In earlier positions, he has taught and coordinated a series of undergraduate and graduate courses in public administration and political science, with a particular focus on regulation, governance and policy. He taught at the University of Amsterdam, Delft University of Technology, Wageningen University (all in the Netherlands), the University of Washington (USA), the London School of Economics and the University of East Anglia (both in the UK), the Sri Venkateswara University (India), the Korean Legalisation Research Institute (South Korea), Ritsumeikan University (Japan), the Western Sydney University (Australia), and the University of Wellington (New Zealand).

Jeroen is currently involved in the following PhD research projects:

  • Adriana Sanchez Gomez (University of New South Wales)
  • Ryan Wong (Australian National University)
  • Gary Lea (Australian National University)
  • Sayel Cortez Berrueta (Wageningen University)

Completed PhD research projects:

  • Li Na (University of Amsterdam, PhD 2016)
  • Seung Hun Hong (Australian National University, PhD 2016)
  • Huiqi Yan (University of Amsterdam, PhD 2014)
  • Kuntal Goswami (Charles Darwin University/Australian National University, PhD 2017)
  • Yunmei Wu (University of Amsterdam, PhD 2017)
  • Allinettes Adigue (Australian National University, PhD 2017)



Expertise Areas

  • Land Use and Environmental Planning
  • Environment Policy
  • Public Administration
  • Public Policy
  • Urban Policy
  • Comparative Government and Politics


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