Aren’t the safety requirements in the Netherlands absurdly stringent? They are far less stringent in other countries.

The Netherlands has the world’s most stringent safety requirements aimed at preventing flooding. These requirements were established after the Great Flood Disaster of 1953, in which more than 1,800 people lost their lives. These statutory requirements are stringent for good reason. 

The Netherlands is a densely populated country. A large number of people – approx. 9 million – live behind the dykes and coastal dunes in the Netherlands, areas that are prone to flooding if not protected properly. These areas also account for enormous capital investments. We experienced the consequences of having an insufficient level of flood protection in the Netherlands in 1953 and during many other (near) disasters. For the Netherlands, a high level of protection is not a luxury but a necessity.

The consequences of flooding have changed since 1953. This is in part because more people now live behind the dykes and the economic value of the area has risen. With the Delta Decisions, the Delta Programme has proposed new flood risk management standards that are geared to the current risks and that are in line with the potential climate change scenarios and socio-economic developments in the coming fifty years. The cabinet has decided to embed these standards in law.