Coping with Climate Change in A densely Populated Delta: A Paradigm Shift in Flood And Water Management in The Netherlands

H.P. Ritzema*, J.M. Van Loon-Steensma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The expected effects of climate change and economic and population growth have motivated the Netherlands government to reformulate its policies on flood protection and water management. Flood protection and drainage are needed to make this low-lying country habitable and suitable for agriculture and other land uses: more than 65% of the Netherlands is protected by dykes against flooding. The likely impacts of climate change in combination with socio-economic developments call for proactive and innovative plans. The new policies and standards are based on an innovative approach: instead of focusing only on prevention, the new standards take into account both the probability of flooding as well as the potential impacts and risks of flooding, for example the individual risk of being hit by a flood. Based on these new standards, conservation, adaptation and mitigation actions are used to create a multi-layer safety approach that focuses on the water management system as well as spatial planning. Examples are presented of changes in perspectives and how flood protection, water management and spatial planning are being combined. These examples can be a basis for further adaptation measures in both the Netherlands as well as in other low-lying countries worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-65
JournalIrrigation and Drainage
Issue numbers1
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Coastal lowland development
  • Drainage
  • Flood protection
  • Land use
  • Sustainable development
  • Water management


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