Implementation agenda for Rhine Estuary-Drecht Towns

In addition, the Rhine Estuary-Drecht Towns Delta Programme has its own implementation agenda for the period 2020-2026. The primary focus is on working on knowledge development and instrument development. No major physical measures are planned in the short term for flood risk management, other than the dike upgrade operations under the auspices of the Flood Protection Programme (HWBP) and maintenance work on the storm surge barriers.  

Milestones 2015-2023

Considerable progress has been made in the Rhine Estuary-Drecht Towns region in recent years. Milestones include: 

  • As part of the Sea Level Rise Knowledge Programme, studies have been conducted to identify dike upgrades needed in the future in the context of rising sea levels, extensive land subsidence and higher river discharges. The results of this system analysis from 2023 can be found here. 
  • The Kinderdijk-Schoonhovenseveer dike upgrade was completed in 2018. The implementation of the upgrade took a range of synergy opportunities into consideration. An example is the Climate Dike in Streefkerk; this dike is so high and strong that housing development is possible.  
  • The Port of Rotterdam Authority, working with government authorities and business, developed adaptation strategies for several parts of the port area that are located outside the dikes. 
  • In 2020, the municipal authority of Dordrecht and the Zuid-Holland Zuid Safety Region published a report with suggestions relating to setting up flood shelter locations in existing or new buildings.  

  • The municipal authority of Dordrecht and the Internationale Architectuur Biënnale Rotterdam (IABR) investigated the possibility of combining new housing on the Staart area, which is located outside the dikes, with a different layout of the area. The aim was to make it possible for the residents of Dordrecht to take shelter here in the event of flooding or possible flooding. 

  • The Hollandse Delta water authority developed a tool in 2021 to make a balanced assessment of new investments in a context of long-term climate risks.
  • In 2021, almost all the safety regions in the area produced impact analyses and evacuation strategies.  
  • The province of Zuid-Holland and the water authorities have drafted a joint Climate Cartography Set for Spatial Plans: a set of maps about suitability of spatial functions in relation to the characteristics of the water and soil system. 
  • In 2022, the evacuation strategies established by the safety regions were elaborated on a supra-regional basis. The effects of possible or actual floods do not stop at the borders of a safety region. 
  • During the past decade, a lot of new knowledge has been acquired about flood risk management in protected areas outside the dikes in the region and new policies have been developed. This knowledge was bundled in 2022 and the digital publication Ten years of work on flood risk management outside the dikes presents the main results, from strategy development to operational measures when high water levels are expected. These are the building blocks for living and working safely in the protected areas outside the dikes in the region. 

Plans for 2024-2026

A number of projects and measures are on the implementation agenda for the coming years. A few examples: 

  • The Schieland en de Krimpenerwaard water authority and Rijkswaterstaat are investing jointly in making the Hollandsche IJssel barrier more reliable. This investment means that less drastic dike upgrades will be needed on the river. An administrative agreement was signed for this purpose in 2023. 

  • Rijkswaterstaat has initiated a follow-up study looking at the functional lifespan of the Maeslant barrier. 

  • The ‘Strategic Adaptation Agenda for Unprotected Areas outside the Dikes’ has been updated. Work is taking place on the development of actions for flood risk management outside the dikes. A project team is developing adaptation strategies for flood risk management in the urban areas in Rotterdam. Work has begun on the flood risk strategy for the Kop van Feijenoord area. 

  • Work has also begun on the development of a ‘Dike Development Framework’ that will investigate the guiding principles and boundary conditions for flood risk management and spatial development in conjunction. 

  • The Rhine Estuary-Drecht Towns Delta Programme is actively involved in the national Sea Level Rise Knowledge Programme
  • The scope of the periodical re-evaluation of the preferred strategy will be determined in late 2023. The preferred strategy itself will be published in 2026. 


All the actors in the region are committed to coordinating work on the three agendas in the national Delta Programme – flood risk management, adequate fresh water, and climate-resilient and water-robust spatial planning – and, where possible, linking them to climate mitigation, the circular economy, housing construction, the energy transition, land subsidence and nature development. The Rhine Estuary-Drecht Towns Delta Programme is examining how this coordination effort can be further strengthened in the future.