Why is it so important to have a Delta Programme?

Traditionally, the Netherlands has close connections with water. We have built up a good life surrounded by the sea and the large rivers. Water brings prosperity and vibrancy but it can also be unpredictable and cause a lot of unpleasantness. 

Since the construction of the Delta Works, the Netherlands has been the best protected delta in the world. That is something we can be proud of. But it is only by continuing to invest in the delta that we can be sure that we, and our children, can carry on living and working safely in our beautiful country. 

Over the past century, sea levels have risen, the land has subsided, and temperatures have increased: we measure these indicators over a series of years. Those developments are continuing. We must take the possibility of heavier rainfall into consideration during spatial planning in our country. In addition, things can actually get drier during the summer, threatening freshwater supplies. 

The population has grown fast in recent decades and the economic value of our country has risen due to increased prosperity. Flooding can therefore lead not only to more casualties but also to more economic damage than in the past. 

The protection of our dikes and dunes is still based on standards from the 1960s. Back then, far fewer people lived behind the dikes, and less was invested and earned in those areas. The protection stakes are now much higher. We would prefer to prevent events such as the 1953 floods and the high river levels in the 1990s. We will have to work hard on that. We must be protected, now and in the future. It is also important to find a solution for possible difficulties with freshwater supplies in the future. We want to prevent major damage as a result of droughts like those in 1973 and 2003. So there is ‘delta work to be done’, which is what the Delta Programme is for. 

It has been structured so that we have our delta in order now, and so that we are adequately prepared in good time to cope with the effects of climate change during this century. If climate changes are faster than predicted, our plans will be ready. If they are slower, we will not implement those plans earlier than necessary.