Organisation of the Delta Programme

Since the launch of the Delta Programme, the central government, district water boards, provinces, and municipalities have been engaging in innovative forms of collaboration, with input from knowledge institutes, NGOs, businesses, and residents. The collaboration is substantiated at both the national and regional levels, and focuses on three issues: Flood Risk Management, Freshwater Supply, and Spatial Adaptation.

The essence of the Delta Programme is a national approach, with room for regional differentiation and commitment among all the stakeholders. Responsibilities and ownership are shared by the national government, provinces, municipalities, and district water boards.

Area-specific collaboration and implementation

The regional administrative consortia of these authorities are vitally important in order to be able to discuss the delta taskings in inter-connection with other area-related taskings. The scope of the taskings differs from one area to the next, as does their elaboration. Consequently, the administrative commitment will differ proportionately from one topic and one region to the next. 

Each Delta Programme tasking features its own logical regional division, each with an appropriate administrative agenda. Support is provided by the authorities involved. The main tasks are the realisation and further elaboration of the Delta Decisions and Preferential Strategies; informing the Delta Programme Commissioner on the progress made; and providing advice regarding the annual proposal for the Delta Programme. Linkage with other regional consultative bodies and topics is ensured through personal unions. The administrative consultative bodies for the IJsselmeer Region and the Southwest Delta cover all three issues: Flood Risk Management, Freshwater Supply, and Spatial Adaptation.

Delta Programme Steering Group

At the national level, the Delta Programme Steering Group is responsible for administrative embedding and providing advice to the Delta Programme Commissioner. The Steering Group is composed of administrators of the umbrella organisations of regional water authorities, provinces, and municipalities; the Chairs of the Regional Consultative Bodies; and the Directors-General of the participating Ministries. The participating Ministries are: Infrastructure & Water Management, including Rijkswaterstaat; the Interior & Kingdom Relations; Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality; and Economic Affairs & Climate Policy. The Delta Programme Steering Group is chaired by the Delta Programme Commissioner.

Generic topics

Administrative coordination differs for each of the three issues. 

  • In the field of flood risk management, the Flood Risk Management Policy Platform was established in 2019. The Platform focuses on national short-term and long-term national flood risk management policy. It provides advice to the Minister of Infrastructure & Water Management, the Delta Programme Commissioner, and the Delta Programme Steering Group, with respect to issues such as the interconnectivity between flood risk management and other topics and area-specific Preferential Strategies.
  • With respect to the freshwater supply, the Freshwater Administrative Platform coordinates administrative consultations between the six freshwater supply regions and the main water system. In addition, this Platform is responsible for the Delta Decision on Freshwater Supply and the Delta Plan on Freshwater Supply. 
  • The Spatial Adaptation Steering Group plays a similar role with respect to the elaboration of this topic; it is responsible for the Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation.

Flood Risk Management

Seven regional consultative bodies are active in the area of Flood Risk Management: the National Consultation Committee on the Coast, the Administrative Consultation Committee for the Wadden Region, the Regional Consultative Body for the Southwest Delta, the Administrative Platform for the IJsselmeer Region, the Administrative Platfom for the Rhine, the Delta Programme Steering Group for the Meuse, and the Regional Consultative Body for the Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden Region (see map). The regional consultative bodies will safeguard the inter-coordination of transitional areas, such as the IJssel-Vecht delta, Alblasserwaard and Krimpenerwaard, and the Amsterdam region. 

The Flood Protection Programme plays a key role with regard to the implementation of the flood risk management measures. The Flood Protection Programme Management, a cooperative body of district water boards and Rijkswaterstaat, ensures inter-connectivity in the scheduling of the measures.

With respect to the rivers, the central government and the regional parties have set up an Integrated River Management (IRM) programme. Their aim is to collectively map out the taskings relating to flood risk management, water quality, navigability, freshwater availability, nature, spatial quality, and economic quality; to address the taskings in an interconnected manner; and to embed the approach in a policy framework, including a schedule of measures, in pursuit of the sustainable planning and management of the Dutch rivers. Administrative coordination regarding IRM is provided by the IRM Steering Group, composed of representatives of the Administrative Platform for the Rhine, the Delta Programme Steering Group for the Meuse, and the Delta Programme Commissioner.

Freshwater Supply

Seven freshwater supply regions (see map) and Rijkswaterstaat (addressing the main water system) have embarked on the elaboration of the Delta Decision on Freshwater Supply and the implementation of the Delta Plan on Freshwater Supply. Consultations on the freshwater supply in the Elevated Sandy Soils East, Elevated Sandy Soils South, the area around the major rivers, West Netherlands, and North Netherlands are held in regional administrative consultation committees. Most of the regions are linking freshwater issues to spatial adaptation and water quality. The Administrative Platform for the IJsselmeer Region and the Regional Consultative Body for the Southwest Delta cover flood risk management as well as freshwater issues and spatial adaptation. The Freshwater Supply programme office prepares the timetable for the implementation of freshwater supply measures, in collaboration with the governments and regions involved. 

Spatial Adaptation

The ambitions, agreements, and actions set out in the Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation call for close collaboration between all the governments. The partners have agreed to base their collaboration – particularly in terms of implementation – on a nationwide division into 45 Working Regions (see map). n each working region, the governments involved are collectively mapping out the vulnerabilities to waterlogging, heat, drought, and urban flooding. Together with residents, businesses, and NGOs they are setting down ambitions to reduce such vulnerabilities and implementing measures to this end. The working regions will monitor progress for the benefit of their own local and regional administrations. On the basis of this information, seven existing regional consultative bodies report on the progress made with respect to spatial adaptation in the purview of the annual progress report by the Delta Programme Commissioner. The regional consultative bodies foster interconnectivity with the other Delta Programme taskings (flood risk management and freshwater supply).

Cross-border transitional areas

The international catchment area committees and the bilateral supra-national cooperatives ensure coordination concerning the issues that affect cross-border transitional areas. This is coordinated by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

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.