What is the National Delta Programme?

The government protects the Netherlands, now and in the future, against flooding and ensures there is enough fresh water. In addition, the government is working to make our country climate-resilient and water-robust. The Delta Programme describes how the government does this. 

The national government, provincial and municipal authorities, water authorities, Rijkswaterstaat and a range of stakeholder organisations are working on the Delta Programme together, led by the Delta Commissioner. The Delta Commissioner is the independent government commissioner for the National Delta Programme. 

More rain, rising sea levels, higher temperatures

After the disastrous floods in 1953, the government took steps to protect the country better against flooding. Agreements were made about the height of the dikes and the management of the coast. However, the circumstances are different at present: 

  • Sea levels are rising (possibly faster and faster) and the land is subsiding. 
  • River discharges are changing  
  • The number of torrential rainstorms is increasing and they are becoming more extreme 
  • Temperatures are rising 
  • Things are getting drier and water shortages are more frequent. 

Floods have a greater impact now than in 1953. There are more people living in the Netherlands and so floods inflict more casualties. Nearly 60 percent of our country could be flooded, including the largest cities and part of the economic centre. Proper protection against floods from the sea, rivers and lakes is therefore important. 

What is the Delta Programme?

Goal of the Delta Programme

The Netherlands has to be climate-resilient and water-robust by 2050. This means that flood risk management, freshwater supplies and spatial planning must be in order. Only then can our country continue to cope properly with the effects of climate change.  

With knowledge institutes, business and stakeholder organisations, the government is working on the delta in a new way:  

  • New standards for flood risk management apply. The government looks not only at the probability of flooding but also at the possible consequences (this is known as the risk approach). The extent of the consequences determines the stringency of the standards. 
  • A clear picture needs to be established of the availability of fresh water for agriculture, industry and nature. The Netherlands needs to become increasingly resilient to freshwater shortages. 
  • Spatial planning in the Netherlands needs to be more climate-resilient and more water-robust. 

The Delta Programme sets out a strategy for the future. How can we protect the Netherlands from flooding and ensure that we have enough fresh water? And how can we ensure that spatial planning is water-robust and climate-resilient? That strategy includes a range of components: 

  • The Delta Decisions: are national frameworks that apply throughout the Netherlands. 
  • The preferred strategies: provide direction for tailor-made measures for the areas in the Delta Programme in the Netherlands. 
  • The Delta Plans: include concrete measures for the implementation of the policy and planning for these measures. 
  • The Delta Programme: describes the progress made on the elaboration and implementation of the Delta Decisions, preferred strategies and Delta Plans. Proposals for possible changes to the Delta Decisions and preferred strategies are also included in the annual Delta Programme, which comes out on Prinsjesdag (the state opening of Parliament in the Netherlands). 

The Delta Decisions

The strategic decision for Sand complements the Delta Decisions. It describes how the sand on the Dutch coast can protect our country in a natural way. 

In 2014, representatives of the provincial and municipal authorities, the water authorities and the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment signed the ‘administrative agreement for the Delta Programme’. Under the agreement, the government authorities take the Delta Decisions and preferred strategies into account in their own plans. The national government has set out the Delta Decisions in the National Water Programme.  

The Delta Plans

1.    Delta Plan for Flood Risk Management
2.    Delta Plan for Fresh Water
3.    Delta Plan for Spatial Adaptation

What is the Delta Programme?

Delta Act (since 1 January 2012)

The statutory agreements about the Delta Programme are set out in the Water Act. The Act also includes information about the Delta Fund and a description of the role of the Delta Commissioner.