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Netherlands flood adaptation

Netherlands flood adaptation 17 October 2019

Countries around the world are looking to the Netherlands to help them deal with flooding and water crisis. Here’s why (via Global Centre on Adaptation)

By Laura Oliver

The Netherlands’ Delta Programme is helping the country plan for future water–related problems and disasters, while responding to the already present threats of flooding and water insecurity.

With a third of its land below sea level, the Netherlands is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Rising sea levels, torrential rain and soil subsidence put 60% of the country at risk of flooding, including major cities.But the country is taking action: every year it spends €1.3 billion on a climate change adaptation plan. The Delta Programme wants to make the Netherlands better able to cope with weather extremes by ensuring its flood risk management, freshwater supply and spatial planning are climate–proof and water–resilient by 2050.

The aim is to “prevent a disaster, rather than devise measures on the aftermath” and the average annual budget is presently protected until 2032. The programme has identified a range of long–term and short–term strategies, flexible solutions that can be deployed or changed as new insights and circumstances emerge. This approach is known as “adaptive delta management” – taking the right steps now that still leave future options open. 

The water supply in the centre of the country, for example, is being gradually and flexibly expanded with additional water from a nearby river and canal. This helps to fight salinisation and drought now, but also prepares it for increased demand on the water supply in the future. The expansion is due for completion by 2021.

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