Organisation of the regions and generic topics

Since the launch of the Delta Programme, the central government, district water boards, provinces, and municipalities have been engaging in innovative forms of collaboration, with input from knowledge institutes, NGOs, businesses, and residents. The collaboration is substantiated at both the national and regional levels, and focuses on three issues: flood risk management, freshwater supply, and spatial adaptation.

Delta Programme entering a new phase

Delta Programme entering a new phase

Following the presentation of the Delta Decisions and Preferential Strategies, emphasis within the Delta Programme has shifted to elaboration and implementation. A national approach will continue to be essential in the Delta Programme, with room for regional differentiation and the involvement of all stakeholders. Shared responsibility and shared ownership by the national government, provinces, municipalities, and district water boards constitute the basis of this approach. This chimes with the current division of responsibilities between these parties and is in line with the Administrative Agreement on Water.

The regional administrative consortia of these authorities are vitally important in order to be able to discuss the delta taskings in inter-connection with other area-related taskings. In the years ahead, the scope of the taskings and their elaboration will differ from one area to the next. Consequently, the extent and the substantiation of the administrative commitment in each region will differ proportionately. For that reason, each of the regions has chosen a suitable regional consultative body for each of the issues, for which the authorities involved will provide professional and substantive support. Its main tasks are the realisation and further elaboration of the Delta Decisions and Preferential Strategies, informing the Delta Programme Commissioner on the progress made, and providing advice regarding the annual proposal for the Delta Programme.

At the national level, the Delta Programme Steering Group is responsible for administrative embedding and providing advice to the Delta Programme Commissioner. The Steering Group is composed of administrators of the umbrella organisations of regional water authorities, provinces, and municipalities; the Chairs of the Regional Consultative Bodies; and the Directors-General of the participating Ministries. The participating Ministries are: Infrastructure & Water Management, including Rijkswaterstaat; the Interior & Kingdom Relations; Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality; and Economic Affairs & Climate Policy. The Delta Programme Steering Group is chaired by the Delta Programme Commissioner.

Generic topics

Administrative coordination differs for each of the three issues.  

  • In the field of flood risk management, the Flood Risk Management Policy Platform was established in 2019. The Platform focuses on national short-term and long-term national flood risk management policy. It provides advice to the Minister of Infrastructure & Water Management, the Delta Programme Commissioner, and the Delta Programme Steering Group, with respect to issues such as the interconnectivity between flood risk management and other topics and area-specific Preferential Strategies, and the annual proposal for the Delta Programme.
  • With respect to the freshwater supply, the Freshwater Administrative Platform coordinates administrative consultations between the seven freshwater supply regions and the main water system; this platform is responsible for the Delta Decision on Freshwater Supply and the Delta Plan on Freshwater Supply.
  • The Spatial Adaptation Steering Group plays a similar role with respect to the elaboration of this topic; it is responsible for the Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation.

Area-specific collaboration and implementation

Each Delta Programme tasking features its own logical regional division, each with an appropriate administrative agenda. Linkage with other regional consultative bodies and topics is ensured through personal unions. The administrative consultative bodies for the IJsselmeer Region and the Southwest Delta cover all three issues: Flood Risk Management, Freshwater Supply, and Spatial Adaptation.

Seven regional consultative bodies are active in the area of Flood Risk Management: the National Consultation Committee on the Coast, the Administrative Consultation Committee for the Wadden Region, the Regional Consultative Body for the Southwest Delta, the Administrative Platform for the IJsselmeer Region, the Administrative Platfom for the Rhine, the Delta Programme Steering Group for the Meuse, and the Regional Consultative Body for the Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden region. In 2015, the former River sub-programme was divided into two areas, Rhine and Meuse, as the elaboration of the Preferential Strategy requires an approach specifically tailored to each river.

The regional consultative bodies will safeguard the inter-coordination of transitional areas, such as the IJssel-Vecht delta, Alblasserwaard and Krimpenerwaard, and the Amsterdam region.

The Flood Protection Programme plays a key role with regard to the implementation of the flood risk management measures. The Flood Protection Programme Management, a cooperative body of district water boards and Rijkswaterstaat, ensures inter-connectivity in the scheduling of the measures.

Seven freshwater supply regions (see map) have embarked on the elaboration of the Delta Decision on Freshwater Supply and the implementation of the Delta Plan on Freshwater Supply, including preparations for the second round of freshwater supply measures. Consultations on the freshwater supply in the Elevated Sandy Soils East, Elevated Sandy Soils South, the area around the major rivers, West-Netherlands, and North-Netherlands are held in regional administrative consultation committees. The Administrative Platform for the IJsselmeer Region and the Regional Consultative Body for the Southwest Delta cover all three issues: Flood Risk Management, Freshwater Supply, and Spatial Adaptation.

The Freshwater Supply programme office prepares the timetable for the implementation of freshwater supply measures, in collaboration with the governments and regions involved.

The ambitions, agreements, and actions set out in the Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation call for close collaboration between all the governments. The partners have agreed to base their collaboration – particularly in terms of implementation – on a nationwide division into 42 working regions. In each working region, the governments involved will collectively map out the vulnerabilities to waterlogging, heat, drought, and urban flooding. Together with residents, businesses, and NGOs they will set down ambitions to reduce such vulnerability and implement measures to this end. The working regions will monitor progress for the benefit of their own local and regional administrations. On the basis of this information, seven existing regional consultative bodies) will report on the progress made with respect to spatial adaptation in the purview of the annual progress report by the Delta Programme Commissioner. The regional consultative bodies will foster interconnectivity with the other Delta Programme taskings (flood risk management and freshwater supply).

The international catchment area committees and the bilateral supra-national cooperatives ensure coordination concerning the issues that affect cross-border transitional areas. This is coordinated by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

Increasing interconnectivity, reducing administrative pressure

Now that more and more elements of the Delta Programme are entering the implementation stage, the Delta Programme Commissioner has called upon the Delta Programme partners to table two issues in their own regional consultation committee meetings: reinforcement of the substantive interconnectivity and interconnections between the topics (Flood Risk Management, Freshwater Supply, and Spatial Adaptation), and simplification of the consultative structure. For that reason, the Delta Programme partners are checking whether the regional administrative consultations regarding these three taskings can be combined and liaised with the Delta Strategy for Water Quality. A good example is the southern region, in which the Delta Programme Steering Group for the Meuse, which covers flood risk management, meets back-to-back with the Regional Consultation Committee on the Meuse/Elevated Sandy Soils South which addresses the topics of water quality, freshwater supply, and spatial adaptation.

Link-up with other parties

The Delta Programme seeks active liaison with parties engaged in Flood Risk Management, Freshwater Supply, and Spatial Adaptation, in particular the security regions, NGOs, and knowledge institutes.

The Flood Management Steering Group plays a pivotal role in liaising with the security regions. In the regions, liaison with the security regions is established through the water board chairs and mayors involved in the regional consultative bodies.

NGOs are also involved in all the regions. The manner in which the NGOs are involved differs from one region to the next: in some cases, such organisations share the leading role; in other cases, they participate in individual projects such as local area development. An overview:

  • IJsselmeer Region: the NGOs are organised in the Regional Consultative Body for the IJsselmeer Region. In addition, the Chair of this body sits on the IJsselmeer Region Administrative Platform in a consulting capacity.
  • Rhine Rivers: since October 2015, two NGO representatives have been participating in the Rhine Administrative Platform: a representative of the Waal-Merwedes Reflection Group and a representative of the Consultative Group of the Regional Administrative Body on Water – Rhine East/Centre Sounding Board Group. NGOs are also involved in a wide range of projects and studies involving the rivers Waal, Merwedes, IJssel, and Nederrijn-Lek.
  • Meuse Rivers: through the Meuse sounding board group, NGOs provide advice to the Meuse Delta Programme Steering Group. In addition, the Chair of the sounding board group sits on the Meuse Delta Programme Steering Group in a consulting capacity.
  • Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden: NGOs are involved in the implementation of the projects and participate in annual meetings.
  • Southwest Delta: the NGOs and officially organised interest groups are represented through the Southwest Delta advisory group. The advisory group may provide solicited and unsolicited advice to the regional consultative body. The recommendations are submitted to the regional consultative body meetings by the independent Chair of the advisory group.
  • Coast: NGOs along the coast provide input during the annual Coast Day.
  • Wadden Region: NGOs are involved in annual events.

At the national level, involvement of the NGOs is ensured through the Physical Environment Consultation Committee. This Committee advises the Delta Programme Commissioner regarding matters relating to the Delta Programme as a whole. With respect to the generic topics of freshwater supply and spatial adaption, the Committee also plays a key role in involving NGOs. The drinking water companies participate in the Freshwater Administrative Platform; NGOs in the agriculture, nature, shipping, and industrial use of water domains join the platform meetings once or twice a year. Consumers are also invited to attend the annual administrative conference on freshwater. The Physical Environment Consultation Committee is involved in the discussion on how NGOs can contribute to climate-proofing our country and ensuring its water resilience.

With regard to the involvement of the business community and the knowledge institutes, the National Water and Climate Knowledge and Innovation Programme and the  Top Sector Water play an important liaison role.