Delta Plan for Spatial Adaptation

The Delta Plan for Spatial Adaptation describes all the projects and measures for making the Netherlands water-robust and climate-resilient by 2050. 

The plan includes seven ambitions. They state how municipal and provincial authorities, water authorities and the national government intend to speed up and intensify the process of spatial adaptation. The government authorities work together in 45 working regions. 

Vulnerabilities in the picture

An understanding of vulnerability to weather extremes and climate change is the basis for spatial adaptation. Municipal and provincial authorities, water authorities and the national government therefore worked with stakeholders to identify the vulnerabilities in their areas using stress tests. Since 2020, the results of the stress tests have been posted on the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Portal. The stress tests will be repeated every six years and also if new developments require it.

Risk dialogues and strategies

A risk dialogue is the step between the stress test and the establishment of an implementation agenda. Vulnerabilities to problems with excess water, heat stress, drought and flood risks are discussed during risk dialogues. The participants determine in consultation which risks they deem acceptable or not, make balanced choices, and develop ambitions that may be included in a climate adaptation strategy. This process is tailored to the specific circumstances and it may include several meetings with parties of all kinds. There are no national guidelines for risk dialogues: each area has an individual approach.

The first series of risk dialogues has now been completed in all the working regions. They used the Risk Dialogue Roadmap for this purpose. It consists of three steps: preparations, discussions and completion. 

Implementation agendas 

Implementation agendas set out – local-level or more expansive – agreements for each region regarding what will be implemented, and when and by whom in the period from 2021. The agreements pertain to, e.g., specific measures, actions aimed at activating other stakeholders, embedding in policy and organisation, raising awareness, and further research. A growing number of municipalities and Working Regions have set down a climate adaptation implementation agenda. 

Linkage opportunities

Implementation agendas contain agreements about what will be implemented, when and by whom in the period from 2021 onwards. That is done on a region-by-region basis, locally or on a larger scale. This all involves concrete measures, actions for activating other stakeholders, embedding in policy and organisation, raising awareness and further research. Most working regions are now working on the implementation agenda and submitting an application for the Climate Adaptation Stimulus Scheme on that basis. There has been a clear rise in interest in the topic of climate adaptation, in part as a result of climate subsidy arrangements and risk dialogues with local residents. This is particularly true of the working regions that include extensive urban areas.

Synergy opportunities

More and more thought is going into to the intelligent linking of climate adaptation measures with other agendas in the physical living environment. In practice, this has proved a difficult process for which few tools are available at present. It opens up many opportunities, particularly in urban areas: it speeds up the implementation of climate adaptation measures, multiple interventions are executed simultaneously and it is financially beneficial. In addition to synergy, it has become increasingly evident in recent years that it is necessary to opt for a climate-resilient and water-robust approach for every new development: for the housing agenda, the energy transition and in reconstruction projects but also in management and maintenance. It would be better to replace ‘Synergy’ with ‘climate-resilient and water-robust development’. Supporting documents are available for linking measures. Guidelines for Smart Synergy in Climate Adaptation have been published and relevant practical experiences are available such as the Urbanisation strategy for the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam.

Encourage and facilitate

The Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management made financial resources available in 2019 and 2020 to encourage and facilitate climate adaptation. Of this, € 10 million was spent on pilot projects and € 5.7 million on process support. At least half of the costs were contributed by local and regional government authorities themselves. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management also supported the pilot projects ‘Financial incentives for climate adaptation on private premises’. 

Additional funds (€ 200 million) were available in 2021 through the Climate Adaptation Stimulus Scheme. In 2021, more than half of the 45 working regions submitted their first official application. 

Local and regional government authorities are encouraging and facilitating climate adaptation in various ways, not only in their own organisations but also among residents, housing corporations, and business. Since 2018, the Climate-Resilient Together Platform has been actively contributing to the exchange of knowledge and experience between local and regional government authorities, private parties, and parts of the Delta Programme. 

Regulation and embedding

The Delta Programme for Spatial Adaptation supports government authorities and market players in their ambition to effectively embed and regulate objectives. A building covenant has been signed in several regions that includes the topic of climate adaptation. Many municipal authorities and other parties are increasingly beginning to feel that the non-committal nature of this approach is an obstacle to progress and are arguing for a more mandatory framework for climate adaptation at the national level. 

Regulation and embedding also involves the Climate Adaptation Standards Consultation Platform (OSKA) through the sharing of guidelines for embedding climate adaptation in environmental visions, plans, and implementation agendas. The guidelines, examples and implementation pilot projects can be found on the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Portal

Emergency response

There will always be a possibility of damage and disruption as a result of intense precipitation, drought, heat or flooding. There are discussions about this in the risk dialogues. Together, the government authorities, citizens and businesses in a region determine who can and should take particular steps if things do go wrong. They also determine how to limit damage in the event of a disaster. The risk dialogues are also required to make it clear who is responsible for which damage.