Delta Programme 2018

The eighth Delta Programme (DP2018) was submitted to the House of Representatives on Prinsjesdag [the state opening of Parliament], 19 September 2017, together with the Delta Fund budget. The online of the eighth Delta Programme (alternative: PDF) focuses on the progress of the work that is being carried out on the delta: the (statutory) elaboration and the implementation of the Delta Decisions and the preferential strategies.

From policy development to implementation

The Delta Decisions will generate new working methods in three fields: flood risk management, freshwater availability, and water-resilient spatial planning. With the presentation of the proposals for the Delta Decisions and preferential strategies (Prinsjesdag 2014), the Delta Programme has entered a new phase: the elaboration and implementation phase.

Flood risk approach

In Delta Programme 2015, the Delta Programme Commissioner has proposed the application of a flood risk based approach in flood risk management policy.  This means: factoring in both the probability and the impact of flooding. He has also proposed new standards for the flood defence systems, that have meanwhile been embedded in law. The amended Water Act, comprising the new standards, has come into force on 1 January 2017. The risk of individual deaths as a result of flooding will thus be reduced to no more than 1:100,000 per annum all across the country. At several locations, a higher protection level is enforced: locations where a flood could cause large numbers of victims, or substantial economic damage, or at which failure of “vital infrastructure” could have a major national impact (for example, the Groningen gas roundabout). The aim is for all primary defence systems to meet the new standards by 2050.

Multi-layer flood risk management

Flood risk management in the Netherlands will be substantiated in a robust manner by focusing on three layers:

  • Layer 1: preventing floods wherever possible with solid dykes, sand replenishment, and more room for rivers;
  • Layer 2: containing the impact of a flood, by water-resilient spatial planning;
  • Layer 3: good disaster control, in the event that a flood should occur nonetheless.

Sufficient freshwater

Freshwater may become increasingly scarce in our country as water consumption increases and the climate changes. Some 15-20% of our economy depends on clean freshwater. The Delta Programme Commissioner proposes that our freshwater supply is kept up to standard through the collective efforts of all the government authorities and water consumers. The government authorities will provide more insight into water availability. This approach will be introduced in the years ahead. Pilots to this effect have already been rolled out in the five freshwater supply regions.

Water-resilient and climate-proof spatial planning

Spatial planning will become more climate-proof and water-resilient. The ambition is that the Netherlands will be designed to be as climate-proof and as water-resilient as possible by 2050. The government authorities are working jointly on the achievement of this goal, in order to improve our country’s resistance to heat, drought, and pluvial flooding, while minimising the additional risk of damage and casualties in (re)developments.

Over recent years, two key instruments have been deployed to realise the ambition: an incentive programme and a monitoring plan. Monitoring shows that pluvial flooding, flood risk management, and drought are already firmly secured on the political agenda. Combating urban heat stress requires additional attention. The central government will ensure that national vital and vulnerable functions, such as power plants, will be flood-proofed. Agreements to that effect were made last year.

The Spatial Adaptation Knowledge Portal ( features guidelines, research results, and experiences aimed at supporting water-resilient and climate-proof spatial planning. Pilots are also being carried out to learn from.

In 2017, the governments involved drew up a Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation. This Delta Plan presents the ambitions with respect to expediting and intensifying the efforts aimed at climate-proofing the Netherlands, and sets out the measures and instruments that will be deployed to that end.

Five Delta Decisions

Since 2010, the Delta Programme has been working, step by step, towards the national frameworks required for the introduction of the new approach; together with governments, NGOs, and the business community. This has resulted in proposals for widely supported Delta Decisions:

Supplementary to the above Decisions, the Delta Programme Commissioner has proposed a strategic decision on Sand, featuring choices for the use of sand replenishment along the coast.

The Delta Decisions mark the start of a well-considered continuation of the work on the delta. The Delta Programme will present an annual report on its progress, as stipulated by the Delta Act.