Climatic Change

, Volume 91, Issue 1–2, pp 103–122 | Cite as

Neo-Atlantis: The Netherlands under a 5-m sea level rise

  • Xander OlsthoornEmail author
  • Peter van der Werff
  • Laurens M. Bouwer
  • Dave Huitema
Open Access


What could happen to the Netherlands if, in 2030, the sea level starts to rise and eventually, after 100 years, a sea level of 5 m above current level would be reached? This question is addressed by studying literature, by interviewing experts in widely differing fields, and by holding an expert workshop on this question. Although most experts believe that geomorphology and current engineering skills would enable the country to largely maintain its territorial integrity, there are reasons to assume that this is not likely to happen. Social processes that precede important political decisions – such as the growth of the belief in the reality of sea level rise and the framing of such decisions in a proper political context (policy window) – evolve slowly. A flood disaster would speed up the decision-making process. The shared opinion of the experts surveyed is that eventually part of the Netherlands would be abandoned.


European Union Gross Domestic Product Flood Risk Flood Disaster Flood Protection 
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© The Author(s) 2008

Open AccessThis is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License (, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xander Olsthoorn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter van der Werff
    • 1
  • Laurens M. Bouwer
    • 1
  • Dave Huitema
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Environmental StudiesVrije UniversiteitAmsterdamthe Netherlands

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