Policy and programmes
The increase in heat, drought, precipitation, and sea level rise caused by climate change entails risks for our economy, health, and safety. If we refrain from taking action, we will be faced with tremendous damage in the future. To prevent this, we need to render our built and rural areas climate-proof and water-resilient. This calls for a national strategy, under which climate adaptation is embedded in policy and implementation at all the government levels. This strategy is being pursued under two programmes: the national Delta Programme and the National Climate Adaptation Strategy (NAS). This page provides more details on the two programmes, on governmental schemes, and on national initiatives that foster collaboration and knowledge exchange.
What is the national Delta Programme?
The national Delta Programme sets out how the government is protecting the Netherlands against flooding, ensuring a sufficient supply of fresh water, and working on a climate-proof and water-resilient layout. Under the Delta Programme, the national government, provinces, municipalities, district water boards, Rijkswaterstaat [the executive branch of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management], and several NGOs are collaborating on these taskings, under the auspices of the Delta Programme Commissioner. The programme is structured on the basis of three issues:
- Flood Risk Management: this sub-programme sets out all the studies, measures, and provisions aimed at protecting the Netherlands from flooding;
- Freshwater Supply: this sub-programme sets out how we are securing sufficient supplies of fresh water, now and in the future. Fresh water is indispensable, not only for our drinking water supply and power supply, but also for nature and the stability of dykes;
- Spatial Adaptation: this sub-programme sets out the spatial planning measures that we intend to implement in order to enable our country to cope with the impact of increasing heat, drought, severe precipitation, and flooding.
In the Delta Programme, the strategies pertaining to these three issues have also been elaborated at the regional level. For each region, a separate Preferential Strategy has been drawn up.
Delta Decision and Delta Plan
All three sub-programmes comprise a Delta Decision and a Delta Plan:
- The Delta Decisions contain national frameworks that cover the whole of the Netherlands. The Delta Decisions are reviewed – re-assessed and adjusted – every six years. The Delta Decision on Spatial Adaptation sets out the national policy regarding the planning of water-resilient and climate-proof areas. In this policy, special attention is focused on vital and vulnerable functions, because flooding or extreme weather could cause key provisions to fail.
- The Delta Plans set out specific measures for the implementation of the national policy as well as an implementation schedule. The Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation sets out specific actions and goals to ensure that the Netherlands will be water-resilient and climate-proof by 2050. This Plan expedites and intensifies the measures to combat waterlogging, heat stress, drought, and the impact of flooding. The Plan was drawn up in 2018 and comprises seven ambitions.
The Delta Programme annually monitors and assesses how the Delta Decisions, Preferential Strategies, and Delta Plans have been elaborated and implemented up to that point. The Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation is also monitored annually. The annual monitoring report can comprise proposals for policy adjustments, e.g., based on new developments or obstacles.
What is the National Climate Adaptation Strategy (NAS)?
The National Climate Adaptation Strategy (NAS) is the overarching Dutch strategy relating to climate adaptation. The NAS Strategy, dating from 2016, sets out the main climate risks for the Netherlands and charts the course for tackling these risks. The NAS programme team has translated this course into plans and actions, set down in the 2018-2019 implementation programme. This programme is focused on sectors, chains, issues, and climate risks that are not covered by the Delta Programme or the Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation; it also complements several issues that are addressed in the Delta Programme or the Delta Plan. In its 2020 report entitled “National Climate Adaptation Perspective”, the team looks back on what has been accomplished up until then and presents a perspective for the future.
Financial arrangements provided by government bodies
In 2018, the national government, provinces, district water boards, and municipalities signed the Administrative Agreement on Climate Adaptation, under which they seek to give impetus to the implementation of measures scheduled in the Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation. With effect from 2021, the national government is making available a maximum of EUR 300 million, which is matched by another EUR 300 million from the local and regional authorities. Out of the total amount, the national government is setting aside EUR 200 million for the Climate Adaptation Incentive Scheme. This scheme qualifies municipalities, provinces, and district water boards for national government grants to implement climate adaptation measures. Other subsidy schemes for local and regional authorities:
- Impact Projects: these are projects revolving around spatial adaptation, which can inspire other authorities and from which they can learn. The final Impact Projects were completed in 2020. Overall, 23 Impact Projects have been selected and carried out in four rounds.
- Living Labs: a “Living Lab” accommodates research and innovation concurrently, according to the principles of co-creation and participatory design. In such labs, public and private parties work together. The “Spatial Adaptation Living Labs” have been completed and the results are available.
- Financial incentives: local governments can encourage private citizens to take measures, e.g., by providing financial incentives. In 2019 and 2020, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management supported several pilot projects involving experiments with financial incentives.
- Implementation projects: In 2019 and 2020, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management provided financial support to eight climate adaptation implementation projects.
Collaboration and knowledge
If we want to have the Netherlands climate-proof and water-resilient by 2050, we will need more than money and ambition. Implementing climate adaptation all across the Netherlands, in appropriate ways, requires knowledge and collaboration. The Climate-proof Together network and the City Deals are initiatives aimed at promoting collaboration among various parties. The Climate-proof Cities focus area, and the Global Center on Adaptation, are initiatives aimed at developing and sharing climate adaptation expertise. More details are provided below.
In order to protect the Netherlands against the impact of climate change, it is important for governments, residents, businesses, and NGOs to join forces. This is why the Climate-proof Together was created: a network intended for and operated by professionals who seek to render the Netherlands resilient against climate change. The Climate-proof Together team can assist you in pursuing climate adaptation, for example, by sparring with you, by putting you in touch with other parties, or by sharing a good initiative or idea through national media.
The City Deals are also intended to foster collaboration among various parties. In the City Deals, cities, NGOs and the national government work together on promoting innovation and enhancing the liveability of Dutch cities. City Deals in which climate adaptation plays a major part are the Climate Adaptation City Deal and the Public Space City Deal. The Climate Adaptation City Deal has been completed and the results are available.
Climate-proof Cities (NKWK – KBS)
The Climate-proof Cities focus area is developing and sharing knowledge on the best measures to render cities climate-proof and water-resilient. It is one of the fourteen focus areas of the National Water and Climate Knowledge and Innovation Programme (NKWK). More details on this focus area and on ways to contribute are provided on the NKWK Climate-proof Cities page.
Global Center on Adaptation (GCA)
The Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) is the worldwide centre for climate adaptation expertise. It was established in the Dutch cities of Rotterdam and Groningen in 2018. It supports countries, organisations, and businesses by providing knowledge and advice on climate adaptation, thus enabling them to better protect themselves against the impact of climate change.