Flood risk management
Much of the Netherlands is situated below sea level. In addition, our country is criss-crossed by major rivers. The Netherlands is therefore vulnerable to flooding. As a result of climate change and sea level rise, we will see higher water levels more often. The high water in Limburg in July 2021 made it clear once again that an unremitting focus on flood risk management is crucial in the Netherlands. In order to meet the targets for flood risk management by 2050, the Netherlands must make haste.
Without flood defences such as dikes and storm surge barriers, sixty percent of the Netherlands would be regularly inundated. That area is home to approximately nine million people and this is where approximately seventy percent of the Gross National Product is earned. So sound flood risk management is extremely important.
National Water Programme, Sand Decision and Delta Plan
Flood risk management is one of the three themes in the Delta Programme. The Delta Decision for Flood Risk Management and the area-specific preferred strategies from the 2015 Delta Programme have been adopted in the 2016-2021 National Water Plan. The Decision on Sand complements the Delta Decisions. It describes how the Netherlands can use sand for natural protection against flooding from the sea. The 2022-2027 National Water Programme is the framework for regional water and management plans in the Netherlands.
The Delta Plan for Flood Risk Management describes concrete measures for the implementation of the policy. The Flood Protection Programme (HWBP) is important for the implementation of the Delta Decision. In this multi-year implementation programme, Rijkswaterstaat and the water authorities are working on dike upgrades in a strong alliance.
Since the publication of the Delta Programme and Delta Decisions in 2015, policy for flood risk management has made the switch to a ‘risk approach’. This links the level of protection to both the probability of flooding and the consequences. It makes it possible to tackle flood risk management more efficiently and effectively. The risk approach and the new standards associated with it have been included in the Water Act since 2017.
Follow the link for an animated film about the risk approach.