Deltaprogramme and the Adaptive Delta Management approach

The Netherlands is the best protected delta in the world. But how can we ensure that we remain protected from high water – now and in the future – and that our supply of freshwater is secure? The Delta Programme is aimed at maintaining the Netherlands as a safe and attractive country, today and in the future. Through the Delta Programme the cabinet seeks to ensure that present and future generations are safe from water and that we will have sufficient freshwater in the centuries ahead. In the Netherlands Adaptive Delta Management has been used as the main approach to prepare for Delta decisions. As well as providing the knowledge support, Deltares also put the structure of the ‘coastal foundation’ onto the agenda. This led to a proposal for the ‘strategic Sand decision’.

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Approach of Adaptive Delta Management launched

Within the Delta Programme the approach of Adaptive Delta Management was launched. This approach deals with uncertainties in a transparent and sensible way in order to support decision making with regard to water policy, planning and infrastructural investments. It links current decision making to future choices. Through this approach one can assess climate change impacts, develop adaptation measures and calculate the effectiveness, analyze the robustness and flexibility of the adaptation strategy and design water management plans.

Adaptation tipping points, pathways and Delta scenario’s

Deltares contributed to the development of the method of Adaptive Delta Management by developing important tools like adaptation tipping points and pathways and Delta scenario’s. Deltares also contributed to the implementation of the concept, for example by applying it in strategy development in regional projects of the Delta Program. Different adaptation pathways were assesed on robustness and flexibility using the Delta scenarios.

The scenarios sketch out the perspective for the long term: possible futures have been worked out with qualitative and quantitative information about the climate, water systems, water use and land use. The qualitative information consists of storylines and maps. The quantitative data are presented as key figures relating to, among other things, temperature, rainfall, river discharges and geographical data sets for land use, land subsidence and salinisation in the Netherlands.

Long- en short term measurements

The delta decisions provide direction for the steps taken by the Netherlands in response to climate change in the short and long terms:

New standards for flood defences (from 2017 onwards). These relate not only to flood probabilities, but also to the combination of flood probabilities and the possible consequences (risk approach). The extent of the consequences determines the protection level.
The availability of fresh water for agriculture, industry and nature becomes more predictable. The level of freshwater supplies is worked out for each region and for each sector.
Spatial planning will become more climate-resilient and more water-robust.

A novel cost-benefit analysis

Also a novel cost-benefit analysis was done combining  CBA with the adaptation pathways.

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