What is the national Delta Programme?

The government seeks to protect the Netherlands, now and in the future, against flooding and to secure a sufficient supply of fresh water. Furthermore, the government seeks to render our country climate-proof and water-resilient. The plans to this end are set down in the Delta Programme. 

The Delta Programme involves concerted efforts by the central government, the provinces, municipalities, district water boards, Rijkswaterstaat, and a range of NGOs, under the auspices of the Delta Commissioner: the independent government commissioner for the Delta Programme.

Increased rainfall, rising sea levels and higher temperatures

After the disastrous flood of 1953, the government took measures to better protect the country against flooding. Agreements were made regarding the height of dykes and regarding coastal management. Yet now, circumstances have changed:

  • The sea level is rising (possibly at an increasingly faster rate), while the soil is subsiding;
  • Torrential rains are increasing in frequency and intensity;
  • The temperature is rising;
  • The climate is becoming drier.

A flood would have a greater impact today than it would have had in 1953. The population of the Netherlands has increased, which means that in the event of a flood, there would be more casualties. Nearly 60 per cent of the Netherlands is at risk of becoming inundated by flood waters. This area comprises the largest cities as well as a part of the economic centre of the Netherlands. For these reasons, adequate protection from flooding from the sea, rivers, and lakes is vitally important.

What is the Delta Programme?

Aim of the national Delta Programme

The aim is to ensure that our flood risk management, freshwater supply, and spatial planning will be climate-proof and water-resilient by 2050, so that our country will continue to be able to cope with the increasing weather extremes. This time around we will try and prevent a disaster, rather than devise measures on the aftermath.

By 2050, the Netherlands must be climate-proof and water-resilient. This means that our flood risk management, freshwater supply, and spatial planning must be up to par. Only then will our country continue to be able to cope with the impact of climate change.

Along with its partners, the government has adopted a new approach to working on the delta:

  • New flood protection standards have been implemented. Rather than focusing on the probability of flooding, the government also considers the potential impact of a flood (risk-based approach). The stringency of the standards is determined by the scope of the potential impact;
  • More insight will be provided into the availability of fresh water for agriculture, industry, and nature;
  • Spatial planning in the Netherlands will be more climate-proof and water-resilient.

The Delta Programme sets a course for the future. How do we protect the Netherlands from flooding and how do we secure a sufficient supply of fresh water? The course for the future features several components:

  • Delta Decisions, setting out national frameworks that pertain to the whole of the Netherlands;
    - Preferential Strategies: general policies tailored to seven regions in the Netherlands;
  • Delta Plans, setting out actual measures for the implementation of the policies;
  • The Delta Programme, setting out the progress of the elaboration and implementation of the Delta Decisions, Preferential Strategies, and Delta Plans.

The Delta Decisions

1.    Delta Decision on Flood Risk Management: to protect residents and the economy from high water and flooding;
2.    Delta Decision on Freshwater Supply: to limit water shortages and optimise the use of fresh water;
3.    Delta Decision on Spatial Adaptation: to develop water-resilient and climate-proof urban and rural areas;
4.    Delta Decision on the Rhine-Meuse Delta: choices regarding flood risk management in the Rhine-Meuse Delta;
5.    Delta Decision on the IJsselmeer Region: choices regarding flood risk management and freshwater supply in the IJsselmeer Region. 

The Delta Decisions are supplemented by the Decision on Sand. This sets out how sand along the Dutch coast can provide a natural way to protect our country.

With effect from 2015, the Cabinet has embedded the Delta Decisions in national policy. In addition, representatives of the provinces, water authorities, and municipalities have signed an ”administrative agreement on the Delta Programme” with the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management. Under this agreement, the regional and local authorities will embed the Delta Decisions and Preferential Strategies in their own plans. The national government has anchored the Delta Decisions in the National Water Plan.

The Delta Plans

1.    Delta Plan on Flood Risk Management
2.    Delta Plan on Freshwater Supply
3.    Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation

What is the Delta Programme?

Delta Act (since 1 January 2012)

The legal agreements on the Delta Programme have been laid down in the Delta Act on Flood Risk Management and Freshwater Supply. The Act also provides information on the Delta Fund and outlines the role of the Delta Programme Commissioner