Southern provinces speed up climate adaptation efforts

The collaborating governments in the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg will speed up their climate adaptation efforts, in order to be better prepared for climate change.

Member of the Provincial Executive of Noord-Brabant Johan van den Hout presented the “Southern provinces bid book” (outlining the climate adaptation plans) to Delta Programme Commissioner Wim Kuijken and Peter Heij, Director-General of Spatial Development and Water Affairs at the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, following the Delta Programme steering group meeting on 20 April. Jan Hendrik Dronkers, Director-General of Rijkswaterstaat, also received a copy.

The two provinces, the district water authorities, and the municipalities in the Southern provinces perceive climate change in this region as both urgent and acute. Drought, heat, hail, and pluvial flooding occur increasingly often, causing a great deal of damage and nuisance. Health and safety risks are also augmenting. Van den Hout: ‘We cannot ignore the scientific insights regarding global climate phenomena and the agreements that government leaders have set down in Paris. Climate change has an immediate impact on water management, and on the future layout of public spaces.’

The Southern provinces are accelerating their preparations for the future, in order to ensure that rather than being taken by surprise, they are converting climate change into opportunities for achieving a pleasant and safe environment in which to live and work. The required measures currently already involve joint annual investments of more than 500 million euros; with effect from 2020, they are expected to entail another 50 million euros annually. The money will be spent on measures such as capacity expansion of water systems, the “cooling” of urban heat spots, greening public spaces, improving the collection of rainwater, and expanding the possibilities for infiltrating water in the soil. The region has applied to the national government for an additional grant from the Delta Fund. This ties in with the investment agenda that the umbrella organisations have drawn up for the new Cabinet, asking the government to add additional climate adaptation resources to the Delta Fund (230 million euros per annum). The new Cabinet will have to decide on this and the Delta Act will need to be amended to this effect.

The approach adopted by the Southern provinces will be taken into consideration in drafting the first Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation, which will form part of this year’s Delta Programme.