Speech by the Delta Programme Commissioner Wim Kuijken at the presentation at the administrative network day about the 2010 Delta Programme

Ladies and gentlemen, This is my first official day as Delta Programme Commissioner. This morning, I laid a wreath at the National 1953 Flood Disaster Monument. This afternoon I am talking to you about the “how” and “what “ of the Delta Programme and the Delta Programme Commissioner. In addition to the four Ds (Delta Programme / Delta Act / Delta Programme Commissioner / Delta Fund) I have a fifth D: Delta Decisions. More about this later. First: my thanks to the Director-General of Water Affairs, Annemieke Nijhof, for the piles of work she did following the Veerman recommendations. And many thanks to Vice Minister Huizinga who added impetus to the Veerman / Delta Act / appointment of a Delta Programme Commissioner process. Honour to those who deserve it. I will now be taking a lot of work off their hands, together with you.

The Delta Programme – Delta Programme Commissioner

My task is threefold:

  • To set in order the current protection against water;
  • To revise the safety standards; compared to the 1960s, the capital invested has increased, as has the number of people living behind the dikes;
  • To give an answer to rising of water levels, while subsidence is taking place.   

These points require substantial interventions, we are facing an enormous challenge. The Vice Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management is the coordinating member of the administration. The Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM), the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), the State Secretary of Water Affairs and regional administrations are closely involved. The Delta Programme is a national programme; it touches all of us.

Position of the Delta Programme Commissioner

The position of the Delta Programme Commissioner is anchored in the Delta Act that is to be submitted to the Lower House today. The appointment notice temporarily fulfils this purpose.  
The Delta Programme Commissioner is a Government Commissioner occupying a central position in the administrative field. The Delta Act also provides for a Delta Fund – a unique fund. It will initially be fed by the current water budgets and from  2020 it will receive a fixed amount of 1 billion euros per year.

This year, the first Delta Programme will be published on Prinsjesdag (the State Opening of Parliament). With the approval of the Lower House, the scope of the programme will be determined for a year. And that is also my mandate for the implementation. The Delta Programme Commissioner occupies a pivotal position at the centre of a triangle of ministries, regional authorities, society and the political scene, with direct access to all the parties involved. And, crucially: the Delta Programme Commissioner has access to all necessary information.

The position of the Delta Programme Commissioner is determined by law. And we will perform within the Delta Programme with conviction and ambition. But even more important is the way in which we will be working: I want to involve everyone, offer room for linking parties to one another and room for innovative ideas.  Conforming to standards when possible, looking for new connections when necessary.

Organisation of the Delta Programme

The Delta Programme belongs to all of us!
The problem is complex, the number of players numerous.
The state (three responsible members of the administration from the ministries of V&W / VROM / LNV) and the regions are the clients. There are nine sub-programmes, three of which are generic and six that are area-specific.   

We are working with programme organisations that have a broad composition. There is a central role for programme directors, extensions as it were of the Delta Programme Commissioner. Steering Groups will be established (regional and national/regional) as liaisons between the state and the regions and to steer the sub-programmes.  
Administrative consultation will take place regarding the sub-programmes (in the regions, the National Water Consultation Committee and the Spatial Planning Consultation Committee). The proposals will be brought together in the National Consultation Committee (Delta Programme discussion) where all nine sub-programmes will be discussed. This provides insight and encourages mutual involvement. And this is where the Delta Decisions return. These give structure, they are decisive and political, a condition for the Delta Programme.

The next step is the Ministerial Steering group and the Council of Ministers. In addition, regional decisions will be made. Needless to say, The Lower House has the final word. The participation of civil society is ensured at every layer.
Everyone, at all layers and in all phases, is working towards a single goal: the  cohesion and progress of the Delta Programme, so that the Netherlands remains safe and its freshwater supply is guaranteed.

To reiterate, a clear structure provides clarity but the focus is the “software”.  This involves bringing the outside world in. I would like to ask the advice of the world’s leading experts in research & knowledge, administration & policy and implementation & innovation. I would like to set a debate in motion. I want to be surprised. And I will make contact with organisations like the Water Advisory Board, the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (in the process of being established) and the Delta Technology Steering Group.

Principles and working methods

The goals are clear: realising effective and integrated water safety and freshwater supply for the longer term. The current programmes, for example, the High Water Protection Plan, the Room for Rivers Project and the Maaswerken project, must be completed on time. And I will be pushing the Delta Decisions on. The basic values of the Delta Programme are solidarity, flexibility and sustainability. And its principles are cohesion, consistency and  transparency.

I will be reserving time for a thorough exploratory study. We currently need to avoid discussions of interests and focus on our collective interest: the safety of the Netherlands and its freshwater supply. 
We will prepare choices together.
A symbol of this is our common house style with individual touches for the various sub-programmes.

We will be using the rules and framework of the Multi-year Programme for Infrastructure, Spatial Planning and Transport (MIRT) and the findings of the Sneller en Beter (Faster and Better) Committee. This also entails different behaviour. The Delta Decisions give direction to the developments in multiple sub-programmes. They are essential for cohesion and connections. Together, we will define the principles we want to set down. 
To date, my inventory has generated four priority Delta Decisions:

  • Basic resolution on safety standards in 2011
  • A strategy for the freshwater supply in 2014
  • The Protection of the Rhine Estuary in 2014 (preferably earlier)
  • IJsselmeer water level management for the long term in 2015.  

I am open to your ideas about, for example, the organisation of the Delta Programme, about cooperation, about innovation and about the significance of the Delta Decisions for cohesion. I am inviting you to reflect and to speak out. That is how we stay alert!

My home base is in Nieuwe Uitleg in The Hague, centrally positioned at the Malieveld. Fifteen people are working there on matters like research, preparations for decisions, communication, basic values & principles, relationship management, quality and depth.

Ladies and gentlemen,
I will be visiting every region and every sub-programme. I will start by listening and being open to dialogue. I would like to exchange views personally and informally.
My boots are in my car, my hard hat and safety vest are ready.
The Delta Programme Commissioner will be visiting you before the summer arrives!
And if you would like to engage with us or if you have any ideas or concerns, you are very welcome to visit us in The Hague!