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Lessons of past disasters and preparedness actions to cope with future hydrological extreme events in the Netherlands
M. de Bel
H. van der Most
C. van de Guchte
Publicatie type | artikel (tijdschrift)
The Netherlands, being a low-lying delta of the rivers Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt, have grappled for centuries in coping with water-related disasters: floods originating from both storm surges and high river discharges. Projected climate change scenarios learned the country to prepare for even more frequent and more intense extreme events. We realized the need for new solutions: automatically heightening the levees to protect against flooding was no longer a sustainable solution. We had to change the system we worked with for centuries and broaden its goals. The Netherlands revisited their safety standards for protection against flooding, now incorporating a risk-based approach. We introduced nature-based solutions like “Room for the River” to enable higher river discharges and the “Sand Engine” for beach nourishment to complement traditional engineering for protective disaster resilient infrastructure. The Netherlands embraced system thinking to future proof the country, and we incorporated cultural and ecological values into adaptive decision making. The Netherlands has proven it can shift the fundamentals of its strategy to prepare for a changing climate. Essentially, we have addressed the synergies between the agendas of water-related disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation in a coherent way, both of which are essential in reaching the integrated goals of the nation’s long-term vision for sustainable development.