Decision on Sand

The sand along the Dutch coast provides natural protection from the sea. As a result of wind, alluvion and currents, sand continues to disappear into the sea. In order to prevent beaches and dunes from thus losing their protective function, Rijkswaterstaat is preserving the coast by replenishing millions of cubic metres of sand per annum, using sand from the North Sea bed. The Decision on Sand outlines the goals and the implementation of these sand replenishments.

The point of departure in the Decision on Sand is “flexible where possible, solid where needed”. This means that the natural character of the coastline will be preserved as far as possible; dunes and beaches constitute the basis for coastal protection. In order to keep the sand budget up to par, even if the sea level rises and severe storms occur more frequently, the sand replenishments may need to be expanded in the future. These replenishments not only bolster the preservation of the coastline, but also foster local and regional goals regarding an economically strong and attractive coast.


More knowledge is needed to make the sand replenishments more effective and cost-efficient. For that reason, “learning by doing” is a key element of the Decision on Sand: conducting pilot studies, monitoring, conducting research, and using the results to underpin new decisions. Up until 2020 inclusive, these efforts were covered by the Coastal Genesis 2.0 research programme. 

Since the end of 2019 all the data amassed under Coastal Genesis 2.0 has been public and available for download . This provides scientists from all over the world with a host of data that may lead to new insights and innovations.

The follow-up to Coastal Genesis 2.0 (additional monitoring, research, and pilot projects) is being carried out under the Sea Level Rise Knowledge Programme. The aim is to enable more efficient anticipation of future developments that affect the sandy system. Sand replenishments currently total 12 million cubic metres of sand a year; for the time being, this suffices.