Why is it so important to have a Delta Programme?

Traditionally, the Netherlands is linked to water. We have created a good life between the sea and large rivers. Water brings with it prosperity and vitality but it can also be unpredictable and cause great suffering.

Since the construction of the Delta Works, the Netherlands has been the world’s best-protected delta. This is something we can be proud of. But it is only through continued investment in our delta that we can be certain that we and our children can keep on living and working in safety in our beautiful country.

Over the past centuries we have seen sea levels rise, subsidence occur and our climate become warmer. This trend is continuing. When planning our country we need to take heavier rainfall into account. Moreover, the summers may become drier, which will endanger our freshwater supply.

Our population has risen sharply over the past decades and the economic value of our country has increased due to a growth in prosperity. Flooding would therefore cause severe losses in terms of both casualties and damage to the economy.

The protection offered by our dikes and coastal dunes is currently still based on standards from the 1960s. At that time, far fewer people lived behind the dikes and we invested far less in those areas and revenues were far lower. The interests to be protected today are much higher. We are keen to prevent situations like the 1953 flood disaster that struck Zeeland, the islands of South Holland and Western Brabant, and the high river levels of the 1990s. This requires a lot of hard work. Our safety must be secure, now and in the future. It is also essential that we find a solution to any problems we might face with regard to our freshwater supply in the future. Situations like we had in 1973 and 2003, with substantial losses due to droughts, must be prevented. There is work to be done on the delta, and that is why we set up the Delta Programme.

The Delta Programme has been structured so that we now have our delta well protected and we can prepare ourselves properly and in good time for the effects that climate change will bring over the course of this century. If the climate changes more quickly than expected, we will have plans at hand; if it changes more slowly, we will not implement our plans any earlier than necessary.