Unique approach of the Delta Programme

Climate change involves uncertainties. We don’t know exactly what the Netherlands will look like in the future. Our country is prepared for a range of scenarios. In the Delta Programme, the government looks a long way ahead and implements additional measures when needed. Not all measures are fixed for the next 50 to 100 years; there is also flexibility for new solutions. This approach is known as adaptive delta management: taking the right steps at the right time. Flexibility where possible, adaptation as soon as needed. 

For example: 
Locks, dams, and storm surge barriers (also known as ‘engineering structures’) are ageing, as a result of wear and tear, changing requirements or because they are no longer state of the art. An estimate has now been made of when all engineering structures will need replacing. The government is also looking at the new developments in the field of locks and flood defences. Linking this information saves time, work and money. The government will, for example, ensure that discharge sluices are not patched up before having to be replaced ten years later by a pump. 

Monitoring, Knowledge, Action

The partners in the Delta Programme work in line with the concept of ‘Monitoring, Knowledge, Action’. The approach consists of a number of questions:  

  • Is the Delta Programme on schedule?  
  • Is everything going according to plan? Are the goals being fulfilled? 
  • Are there new developments that transform everything?  
  • Are multiple goals being addressed at the same time?  
  • If possible, are government authorities, businesses, stakeholder organisations and citizens engaging with the process? 

Regular intervals

The Delta Programme answers these questions at regular intervals. The Delta Commissioner reports each year, on Prinsjesdag (the state opening of Parliament in the Netherlands), about the implementation of the Delta Plans, presenting concrete proposals and measures for the years ahead.  

Six-yearly periodical evaluation

The world around us is changing and new insights are emerging. The effects of measures are becoming clearer and we are learning more about climate change. As a result, there is a periodical evaluation every six years of the Delta Decisions and regional strategies. Is the Delta Programme on schedule? Or is a change of course needed? And if so, how? The 2021 Delta Programme sets out the results of the first periodical evaluation in the form of updated Delta Decisions and preferred strategies. The results of the following periodical evaluation will be presented in the 2027 Delta Programme.  

Environmental effects have been described in this report. These effects were taken into consideration in the decisions made on the road to the revised Delta Decisions and regional preferred strategies in the 2021 Delta Programme.  


A dedicated Signal Group monitors whether there are any new insights that the Delta Programme should anticipate and advises the Delta Commissioner in this respect annually. The Signal Group consists of people from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares, Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Statistics Netherlands, among others. The recommendations of the Signal Group are included in the annual Delta Programme and they can be found by consulting the overview of publications. 

In 2019, the Signal Group said that accelerated sea level rise was possible. The Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Delta Commissioner then launched the Sea Level Rise Knowledge Programme. The aim of this programme is to enhance knowledge about the probability of flooding and its consequences. The first phase will be completed in late 2023; the second phase will begin in 2024.  

National government and regions together

The water in the Netherlands belongs to us all. Which is why the national government and the regions collaborate on a higher national objective: keeping the Netherlands physically safe and liveable. Water authorities, municipal and provincial authorities, ministries and Rijkswaterstaat are partners in the Delta Programme. But local residents and stakeholder organisations such as housing corporations and horticulturists are also regular participants in discussions about the measures to be taken.