, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 180–192 | Cite as

Assessment of the Netherlands’ Flood Risk Management Policy Under Global Change

  • Frans KlijnEmail author
  • Karin M. de Bruijn
  • Joost Knoop
  • Jaap Kwadijk


Climate change and sea level rise urge low-lying countries to draft adaption policies. In this context, we assessed whether, to what extent and when the Netherlands’ current flood risk management policy may require a revision. By applying scenarios on climate change and socio-economic development and performing flood simulations, we established the past and future changes in flood probabilities, exposure and consequences until about 2050. We also questioned whether the present policy may be extended much longer, applying the concept of ‘policy tipping points’. Climate change was found to cause a significant increase of flood risk, but less than economic development does. We also established that the current flood risk management policy in the Netherlands can be continued for centuries when the sea level rise rate does not exceed 1.5 m per century. However, we also conclude that the present policy may not be the most attractive strategy, as it has some obvious flaws.


Climate change Sea level rise Flood risk Vulnerability Tipping point 



The writing of this article was subsidized by the Netherlands’ research program Knowledge for Climate (Theme 1: Climate-proof Flood Risk Management) and is partly based on research within the Integrated Project FLOODsite (EU-6th Framework Programme, Contract GOCE-CT-2004-505420).


  1. Botzen, W.J.W., J.C.J.M. van den Bergh, and L.M. Bouwer. 2010. Climate change and increased risk for the insurance sector: a global perspective and an assessment for the Netherlands. Natural Hazards 52: 577–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bouwer, L.M., P. Bubeck, and J.C.J.H. Aerts. 2010. Changes in future flood risk due to climate and development in a Dutch polder area. Global Environmental Change 20: 463–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. CHR/KHR. 2010. Assessment of climate change impacts on discharge in the Rhine River Basin: Results of the RheinBlick2050 Project. Report no. I-23 of the CHR.Google Scholar
  4. Claessen, F., C. van de Guchte, H. van der Most, W. Oosterberg, and R. Portielje. 2009. How do other countries adapt to climate change? International survey of climate adaptation, especially in water management policy. Deltares report T2586, Utrecht (in Dutch).Google Scholar
  5. De Bruijn, K.M., F. Klijn, C. McGahey, M. Mens, and H. Wolfert. 2008. Long-term strategies for flood risk management: Scenario definition and strategy design. FLOODsite report T14-08-01.Google Scholar
  6. De Bruijn, K.M., R. van Buren, and K. Roscoe. 2008a. Mapping casualty risk in the Netherlands; locational and group risk. Deltares report T2603, Delft.Google Scholar
  7. De Bruijn, K.M., and F. Klijn. 2009. Risky places in the Netherlands: A first approximation for floods. Journal for Flood Risk Management 7: 58–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Delta Committee. 2008. Working together with water. A vital country builds its future. The Hague: Delta Committee (in Dutch).Google Scholar
  9. Eijgenraam, C.J.J. 2006. Optimal safety standards for dike-ring areas. CPB discussion paper 62. Den Haag: CPB.Google Scholar
  10. Evans, E.M., R. Ashley, J. Hall, E. Penning-Rowsell, A. Saul, P. Sayers, C. Thorne, and A. Watkinson. 2004. Foresight. Future flooding. Scientific summary: Volume I—future risks and their drivers. London, UK: Office of Science and Technology.Google Scholar
  11. FLOODsite. 2009. Flood risk assessment and flood risk management. An introduction and guidance based on experiences and findings of FLOODsite (an EU-funded Integrated Project). Delft, The Netherlands: Delft Hydraulics, Deltares. ISBN 978 90 814067 1 0.
  12. Haasnoot, M., H. Middelkoop, E. van Beek, and W.P.A. van Deursen. 2009. A method to develop sustainable water management strategies for an uncertain future. Sustainable Development. doi: 10.1002/sd.438.
  13. Hesselink, A.W., G.S. Stelling, J.C.J. Kwadijk, and H. Middelkoop. 2003. Inundation of a Dutch river polder, sensitivity analysis of a physically based inundation model using historic data. Water Resources Research 39: 1234. doi: 10.1029/2002WR001334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. IPCC. 2001. Climate change 2001: The scientific basis, contribution of working group I to the third assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. IPCC. 2007. Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Jonkman, S.N., M. Brinkhuis-Jak, and M. Kok. 2004. Cost benefit analysis and flood damage mitigation in the Netherlands. HERON 49: 95–111.Google Scholar
  17. Klijn, F., H. van der Klis, J. Stijnen, K.M. de Bruijn, and M. Kok. 2004a. Flood risk in dike-ring areas in the Netherlands; line of reasoning and expert judgments. Delft Hydraulics report Q3503.10, Delft (in Dutch).Google Scholar
  18. Klijn, F., M. van Buuren, and S.A.M. van Rooij. 2004b. Flood risk management strategies for an uncertain future: living with Rhine River floods in the Netherlands? Ambio 33: 141–147.Google Scholar
  19. Klijn, F., P. Baan, K.M. de Bruijn, and J. Kwadijk. 2007. Flood risks in the Netherlands in a changing climate; expectations, estimates and calculations for the 2nd sustainability outlook for the Netherlands. Delft Hydraulics report Q4290, Delft (in Dutch).Google Scholar
  20. Klijn, F., J. Kwadijk, K.M. de Bruijn, and J. Hunink. 2010a. Flood risks and drought risks in a changing climate; survey of pathways to climate-change proofing the Netherlands. Deltares report 1002565, Delft (in Dutch).Google Scholar
  21. Klijn, F., N. Asselman, and H. van der Most. 2010b. Compartmentalisation: Flood consequence reduction by splitting-up large polder areas. Journal of Flood Risk Management 3: 3–17. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-318X.2009.01047.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. KNMI. 2006. KNMI climate change scenarios 2006 for the Netherlands. KNMI scientific report WR 2006-01, De Bilt.Google Scholar
  23. Koomen, E., and E.M.M.M. van der Hoeven. 2008. The Netherlands climate proof; what will the country look like in 2040? Geoinformatics 11: 26–27.Google Scholar
  24. Kuiper, R., and A.A. Bouwman. 2009. Trend map Netherlands 2040. Background report for the 2nd sustainability outlook. PBL publication no. 500074006, Bilthoven (in Dutch).Google Scholar
  25. Kwadijk, J., F. Klijn, and M. van Drunen. 2006. Climate durability of the Netherlands: benchmark assessment. Delft Hydraulics report Q4183, Delft (in Dutch).Google Scholar
  26. Kwadijk, J., A. Jeuken, and H. van Waveren. 2008. The climate durability of the Netherlands Waterland. Survey of tipping points in water management and policy. Deltares report T2447, Delft (in Dutch).Google Scholar
  27. Kwadijk J.C.J., M. Haasnoot, J. Mulder, M. Hoogvliet, A. Jeuken, R. van de Krogt, N. van Oostrom, H. Schelfhout, E. van Velzen, H. van Waveren, and M. de Wit. 2010. Using adaptation tipping points to prepare for climate change and sea level rise: a case study in the Netherlands. WIREs Climate Change 2010 1 000–000. doi: 10.1002/wcc.64.
  28. Kwakkel, J.H., W.E. Walker, and V.A.W.J. Marchau. 2010. Classifying and communicating uncertainties in model-based policy analysis. International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management 10: 299–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lammersen, R. 2004. Cross-boundary impacts of extreme floods of the Lower Rhine River. Ministerium für Umwelt und Naturschutz, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen. ISBN 9036956382 (in German).Google Scholar
  30. Lindström, G., M. Gardelin, B. Johansson, M. Persson, and S. Bergström. 1997. Development and test of the distributed HBV-96 hydrological model. Journal of Hydrology 201: 272–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Maaskant, B., S.N. Jonkman, and L.M. Bouwer. 2009. Future risk of flooding: an analysis of changes in potential loss of life in South Holland (The Netherlands). Environmental Science and Policy 12: 157–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Passchier, R., F. Klijn, and H. Holzhauer. 2009. Policy tipping points in the southwestern estuarine region? Survey of climate-change durability. Deltares report 1200163-006, Delft (in Dutch).Google Scholar
  33. Samuels, P., and B. Gouldby. 2009. Language of risk. Project definitions, 2nd ed. Report T32-04-01.
  34. Samuels, P., F. Klijn, and J.P.M. Dijkman. 2006. An analysis of the current practice of policies on river flood risk management in different countries. Irrigation and Drainage 55: 141–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Te Linde, A.H., J.C.J.H. Aerts, A.M.R. Bakker, and J.C.J. Kwadijk. 2010. Simulating low-probability peak discharges for the Rhine basin using resampled climate modeling data. Water Resources Research 46: W03512. doi: 10.1029/2009WR007707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ten Brinke, W., and B. Bannink. 2005. Flood risk: An evaluation of the flood risk management policy. Bilthoven (in Dutch): RIVM- MNP.Google Scholar
  37. Van Danzig, D. 1956. Economic decision problems for flood prevention. Econometrica 24: 276–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Van Deursen, W.P.A. 2006. Report Rhineflow/Meuseflow. New KNMI climate change scenarios. Rotterdam (in Dutch): Carthago Consultancy.Google Scholar
  39. Vellinga, P., C.A. Katsman, A. Sterl, and J.J. Beersma (eds.). 2009. Exploring high-end climate change scenarios for flood protection of the Netherlands. KNMI Scientific report WR-2009-05, De Bilt.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frans Klijn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Karin M. de Bruijn
    • 1
  • Joost Knoop
    • 2
  • Jaap Kwadijk
    • 1
  1. 1.DeltaresDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.PBL Netherlands’ Environmental Assessment AgencyBilthovenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations