Spatial Adaptation

Climate change increases the probability of waterlogging, heat, drought, and urban flooding This entails risks to our economy, health, and safety. It is imperative for the Netherlands to adapt to such changes. If we refrain from taking action the damage in our cities may rise to some 70 billion euros in the period up to 2050.  Rural areas may also sustain considerable damage. Here, severe downpours and prolonged precipitation will cause waterlogging, while at other times drought may cause damage. Heat causes expansion-related problems in railways, bridges, and other infrastructure. In addition, heat will affect the health of vulnerable population groups, such as older people and young children.

Climate change calls for a shift in mindset: climate-proof and water-resilient design must become a matter of course in spatial (re)developments.


Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation

The annual Delta Programme encompasses a Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation. This sets out how municipalities, district water boards, provinces, and the national government intend to expedite and intensify the spatial adaptation process. The Delta Plan contains seven ambitions to this end. It indicates the goals pursued by the parties, how they intend to attain these goals, and how they will visualise the results. The Delta Plan comprises an action plan featuring concrete actions and measures.

7 Ambitions for rendering the Netherlands water-resilient and climate-proof

  • Mapping out vulnerabilities

  • Drawing up an implementation agenda

  • Conducting a dialogue on risk and drawing up a strategy

  • Capitalising on linkage opportunities

  • Regulating and embedding

  • Promoting and facilitating

  • Responding to disasters

Delta Programme 2019

Read about the progress made regarding the topic of Spatial Adaptation in Delta Programme 2019.

Climate-proof and water-resilient

The core of the Delta Decision on Spatial Adaptation is to have the Netherlands designed in a climate-proof and water-resilient manner by 2050. The government authorities will ensure that damage ensuing from heat stress, waterlogging, drought, and urban flooding will be kept to a minimum. This aim will be taken into account in the construction of new residential areas and business parks, the renovation of the existing built environment, sewer replacements, and road maintenance. Climate scenarios will be used to that end.

In close collaboration with the private sector and NGOs, the authorities will proceed in three steps:

  • “Analysis”: analysing the impact of climate change for the various functions in an area in the period up to 2050 (looking ahead to 2100);
  • “Ambition”: setting concrete goals for improving water-resilience and climate-proofing in the period up to 2050, and formulating an appropriate strategy to achieve these goals;
  • “Action”: setting down the goals and the strategy in, for example, policy plans, legislation, regulations, and programmes pertaining to implementation, management and “major” maintenance.

The central government, municipal authorities, provinces, and district water boards conduct an annual survey to gauge the progress made. The surveys conducted in 2015 (benchmark), 2016, 2017, and 2018 have revealed that all the government authorities have set to work on the topics. The majority have commenced by mapping out their vulnerabilities to extreme weather. Most of the governments are working on stress tests, and have embedded climate adaptation in their plans and regulations.

In 2018, standards will be developed for the stress tests in order to improve the inter-comparability of the outcomes. Standardisation means that everyone will use the same input and parameters for the stress test, such as a standard downpour or a standard period of heat or drought. In February 2018, the central government, in collaboration with the other governments and knowledge institutes, published guidelines to the standardised stress test light. The stress test will be elaborated further in 2018.

Good spatial adaptation requires efforts on the part of all public and private parties. For this reason, the new Incentive Programme 2018-2022 was launched in 2018. A total of 5 million euros from the Delta Fund has been allocated for this period. In this phase, the Incentive Programme is focused on supporting the regions.

In order to expedite spatial adaptation efforts, it is imperative that the available knowledge, tools, and experience be shared wherever possible; this obviates the need for re-inventing the wheel. This is why the Climate-proof Together Platform was set up in 2018. The platform liaises supply and demand in various regions, sectors, and existing networks. The knowledge portal also fosters knowledge sharing.

Climate Impact Atlas

The knowledge portal also features the revised Climate Impact Atlas, enabling the quick visualisation of various climate effects (heat, waterlogging, drought). The effects may also be combined with information on, e.g., vulnerable groups, swimming water, or depths. The Climate Impact Atlas constitutes a sound basis for a stress test.

Vital and vulnerable functions

The central government ensures that national vital and vulnerable functions will be more resistant to flooding by no later than 2050. Vital and vulnerable functions are, for example, the energy supply (electricity, gas, oil), telecom and IT facilities (public network and emergency communication), the wastewater chain, the supply of drinking water, healthcare (such as hospitals), pumping stations and sluices, road transport, chemical companies, and laboratories that work with pathogens.

The Delta Programme focuses special attention on these functions, as flooding may cause the failure of essential facilities and the release of harmful substances. In addition to the risk of casualties, flooding could also entail major economic loss, if areas were temporarily unfit for habitation or if key companies were inoperative for a prolonged period of time.

The approach to this issue is also based on the “Analysis, Ambition, Action” steps.

In 2017, the Ministries responsible set down (preliminary) ambition levels for the continued operation or rapid recovery of vital and vulnerable functions in flooded areas. These ambitions constitute the points of departure for the regional vulnerability analyses. With respect to a majority of the functions, the “Analysis” step has largely been substantiated by now. The progress made with respect to the “Ambition” step varies widely. Before 2020, policy and supervision must have been set down in order to ensure that the goals agreed upon are attained.

The fourth progress report regarding the approach to national vital and vulnerable functions contains a detailed explanation of the progress made with respect to the agreements on vital and vulnerable functions

These ambitions are outlined in the Third Progress Report regarding the approach to national vital and vulnerable functions.