Since the launch of the Delta Programme, the national government, water authorities, and provincial and municipal authorities have been working together in an innovative way with input from knowledge institutes, stakeholder organisations, business and citizens. This work covers three themes: Flood Risk Management, Fresh Water and Spatial Adaptation. The joint approach is implemented in national and regional contexts.
The core of the Delta Programme is a national approach, with room for regional interpretation and the involvement of all parties. The national government, provincial and municipal authorities and water authorities have shared responsibility and shared ownership.
Area-specific collaboration and implementation
The regional administrative alliances of the government authorities are of major importance for the discussion of the delta agendas in conjunction with other area agendas. The scope of the agendas and their elaboration varies from area to area and so administrative engagement also varies depending on the region and theme in question.
Each agenda in the Delta Programme has a specific, logical, regional demarcation with a corresponding administrative agenda, with the authorities concerned organising support arrangements. The main tasks involve the implementation and further elaboration of the delta decisions and preferred strategies, informing the Delta Commissioner about progress and submitting recommendations about the annual proposal for the Delta Programme. Personal unions establish connections with the other area consultations and themes. The administrative consultation platforms for the IJsselmeer area and Southwest Delta discuss flood risk management, fresh water and spatial adaptation.
Delta Programme Steering Group
At the national level, the Delta Programme Steering Group provides administrative embedding and recommendations for the Delta Commissioner. The steering group includes directors of the umbrella organisations of provincial and municipal authorities, and water authorities, the chairs of the area consultation platforms and the directors-general of the ministries concerned. The ministries are the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (including Rijkswaterstaat), the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. The Delta Commissioner chairs the Delta Programme Steering Group.
The way in which the three themes are coordinated administratively varies from theme to theme.
- The Flood Risk Management Policy Platform (BPWV) was established in 2019 for flood risk management. The central focus of the BPWV is on the national policy for flood risk management in the short and long term. The BPWV advises the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Delta Commissioner and the Delta Programme Steering Group, for example about the links between flood risk management and other themes, and area-specific preferred strategies.
- In the area of fresh water, the Freshwater Administrative Platform (BPZ) is the coordinating administrative body for the six freshwater regions and the main water system. In addition, the BPZ is responsible for the Freshwater Delta Decision and the Freshwater Delta Plan.
- The Spatial Adaptation Steering Group fulfils this function for the elaboration of this topic and is responsible for the Delta Plan for Spatial Adaptation.
Flood risk management
Seven area consultation platforms are active in the area of flood risk management. the national Coast consultation platform, the Wadden area administrative consultation platform, the Southwest Delta area consultation platform, the IJsselmeer area administrative platform, the Rhine administrative platform, the Delta Programme Steering Group for the Meuse and the Rhine Estuary/Drecht Towns area consultation platform (see map). The area consultation platforms make sure there is coordination about transitional areas such as the IJssel-Vecht delta, Alblasserwaard and Krimpenerwaard, and the Amsterdam region.
The Flood Protection Programme (HWBP) plays a central role in the implementation of measures relating to flood risk management. The HWBP programme directorate, an alliance between water authorities and Rijkswaterstaat, provides coordinated programming.
For the rivers, national government and regional organisations have established an Integral River Management (IRM) Programme. The goal is to work together on identifying the agendas for flood risk management, water quality, navigability, freshwater availability, nature, and spatial and economic quality. The IRM programme also ensures that the challenges are addressed in a coordinated way and that the approach is anchored in a policy framework, including a programme of measures working towards sustainable planning and management for Dutch rivers. The administrative coordination of IRM goes through the IRM Steering Group, on which the Rhine Administrative Platform, the Delta Programme Steering Group for the Meuse and the Delta Commissioner are represented.
Six freshwater regions (see map) and Rijkswaterstaat (for the main water system) are working on the elaboration of the Freshwater Delta Decision and the implementation of the Freshwater Delta Plan. Consultations about fresh water in the High-Lying Areas with Sandy Soils (East), High-Lying Areas with Sandy Soils (South), the River Area, the Western Netherlands and Northern Netherlands take place in regional administrative consultation platforms (RBOs). In most regions, fresh water is linked to spatial adaptation and water quality. The IJsselmeer Area Administrative Platform and the Southwest Delta Area Consultation Platform discuss flood risk management, fresh water and spatial adaptation. The Freshwater Programming Office prepares the programming for the freshwater measures. The government authorities and regions work together here.
The ambitions, agreements and actions in the Delta Plan for Spatial Adaptation require intensive collaboration between all government authorities. The partners have agreed to base their joint activities – particularly in the area of implementation – on a country-wide classification consisting of 45 working regions (see map). Together, the authorities in a working region map out the vulnerabilities to problems with excess water, heat, drought and flooding, set the ambition relating to the reduction of vulnerability in consultation with citizens, business and stakeholder organisations, and implement measures to this end. The working regions monitor progress for the benefit of their own local administrative authorities. Seven area consultation platforms (see map) report on progress with respect to spatial adaptation on the basis of that information for the purposes of the Delta Commissioner’s annual progress report. Area consultations further coordination with the other agendas of the Delta Programme (flood risk management and freshwater supplies).
Cross-border transitional areas
Consultations in the area of all themes about cross-border transitional areas take place in the international catchment committees and the bilateral cross-border alliances. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management coordinates these consultations.
Increasing interconnectivity and enhancing linkage
Water system measures are essential but not sufficient to attain the Delta Programme goals with respect to flood protection, freshwater supply, and climate adaptation. Adjustments in spatial planning are also needed to achieve resilience against flooding and extreme weather.
That is why the Delta Programme is focusing on the close interconnectivity of the three Delta Programme taskings and on linkage with other societal taskings, such as urbanisation, agricultural transition, and nature restoration. Water must become more directive in spatial planning, as is one of the points of departure in the National Environmental Vision.
The IJsselmeer illustrates how closely the water taskings are intertwined with other transitions. The northern part of the Netherlands is largely dependent on this freshwater buffer. A stress test reviewing the situation by 2050 has revealed what needs to be done to preserve this water buffer: adapting to the impact of sea level rise and climate change, but also adapting to choices relating to river management, to national water distribution, to new economic developments resulting in additional water consumption, and to interventions in the purview of agriculture, nature, drinking water, soil subsidence, shipping, and the energy transition.
The Delta Programme Steering Group is exploring ways to improve synergy: what needs to be done to reinforce the interconnection between the Delta Programme taskings and where would linkage with other developments make sense? Delta Programme 2023 will report on the options.
Meanwhile, the Delta Programme is already taking steps to identify and address potential interconnections. For example, representatives of the Delta Programme are participating in the consultations regarding the NOVI areas of Zwolle, Groene Hart, and De Peel. Furthermore, connections have been established with cultural heritage taskings and the urbanisation tasking.
Link-up with other parties
The Delta Programme seeks active liaison with relevant parties, in particular the Security Regions, NGOs, and knowledge institutes
The Flood Management Steering Group plays a pivotal role in liaising with the Security Regions. In the regions, liaison with the Security Regions is established through the water board chairs and mayors involved in the regional consultative bodies.
NGOs are also involved in all the regions. Regional choices are discussed in regional consultative groups and meetings. The manner in which the NGOs are involved differs from one region to the next. An overview:
- IJsselmeer Region: the NGOs are organised in the Regional Consultative Body for the IJsselmeer Region. In addition, the Chair of this body sits on the IJsselmeer Region Administrative Platform in a consulting capacity.
- Rhine Rivers: since October 2015, two NGO representatives have been participating in the Rhine Administrative Platform: a representative of the Waal-Merwedes Reflection Group and a representative of the Consultative Group of the Regional Administrative Body on Water – Rhine East/Centre Consultative Group. NGOs are also involved in a wide range of projects and studies involving the rivers Waal, Merwedes, IJssel, and Nederrijn-Lek.
- Meuse Rivers: through the Meuse consultative group, NGOs provide advice to the Meuse Delta Programme Steering Group. In addition, the Chair of the consultative group sits on the Meuse Delta Programme Steering Group in a consulting capacity.
- Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden: NGOs are involved in the implementation of the projects and participate in annual meetings.
- Southwest Delta: the NGOs and officially organised interest groups are represented through the Southwest Delta advisory group. The advisory group may provide solicited and unsolicited advice to the regional consultative body. The recommendations are submitted to the regional consultative body meetings by the independent Chair of the advisory group.
- Coast: NGOs along the coast provide input during the annual Coast Day.
- Wadden Region: NGOs are involved in annual events.
At the project level, societal brainpower and energy is also utilised in several ways in the purview of efficient projects and choices. In some cases, NGOs co-initiate projects; in other cases, they participate in individual projects, such as local area development.
Physical Environment Consultation Committee
At the national level, involvement of the NGOs is ensured through the Physical Environment Consultation Committee. This Committee advises the Delta Programme Commissioner regarding national choices and matters relating to the Delta Programme as a whole. With respect to the generic topics of freshwater supply and spatial adaption, the Committee also plays a key role in involving NGOs. The drinking water companies participate in the Freshwater Administrative Platform; NGOs in the agriculture, nature, shipping, and industrial use of water domains join the platform meetings once or twice a year.
The business community and research institutes
With regard to the involvement of the business community and the knowledge institutes, the National Water and Climate Knowledge and Innovation Programme and the Top Sector Water play an important liaison role.