Delta Decisions are good example of new thinking in water management

Published: 17 September 2014

The Delta Decisions in the 2015 Delta Programme were presented to the Dutch Lower House during the state opening of parliament in 2014. The decisions were formulated in an interactive process involving a range of government authorities and NGOs. This process drew on Deltares expertise and the collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat was excellent throughout.

2954[1]Jaap Kwadijk and Marjolijn Haasnoot, both climate adaptation experts at Deltares, think the delta decisions are an excellent example of the new thinking in water management. Climate change is a fact but the numerous uncertainties make it difficult to decide how to manage the impact in water management. If you want to take measures that will remain effective in the long-term, it makes sense for them to be as robust or flexible as possible. The new thinking in water management means accepting uncertainty, and looking for robust and flexible measures, while continuing to monitor the situation and adapt when that becomes necessary. This involves ongoing studies to reduce levels of uncertainty, accompanied by action in the interim.

Not only has Deltares been involved in a wide range of studies of promising measures over the past year for the purposes of the delta decisions, we have also been contributing to adaptive delta management. In short, the adaptive delta management approach involves devising different paths for adaptation on the basis of the analysis of possible futures. These paths are made up of a series of possible measures over time. The result is the identification of points in time at which existing measures no longer work, so that changes are required in light of different circumstances such as climate change. These are the adaptation tipping points. The benefit of this approach is that, if things work out differently than expected (for example if new climate scenarios develop), the plans will not require a complete overhaul; it may be possible to take steps earlier or later than planned.

There is also considerable interest in this approach from abroad. Deltares has received approaches from countries throughout the world – including Vietnam, Bangladesh, Australian, New Zealand and the United States – to collaborate on research projects.

Deltaprogramma 2015 (dutch)

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