Netherlands Investing €20bn to Fight Rising Sea Level

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netherland investing in new storm surge barriers from

Recently unveiling a multi-billion-euro, multi-decade plan to counter rising sea levels, the Netherlands is investing proactively to mitigate risks from global climate change. Surging seawater is the biggest environmental threat to this European nation, much of which lies below sea level. Environmental Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen, presenting the plan to parliament, called it “a new chapter in the history of our centuries-long relationship with water.”

The Dutch have battled the waters of the North Sea for centuries. Floods have at times inundated large portions of the country, particularly in Zeeland, a southwestern province. A disastrous flood in 1953 left almost 2,000 people dead in Zeeland. Afterwards, investing heavily in water-management projects known collectively as the Delta Works, the Dutch built a system of dams, storm surge barriers, and dykes to keep the sea out.

Investing in a “New Delta Plan”

However, Schultz van Haegen said that a growing population, growing industry, and climate change have necessitated a “new Delta plan.” The project, investing 20 billion euros ($25 billion), and expected to span 30 years, will see new sea barriers built, and existing dykes strengthened in the country. The government says it is working to have the whole country ready by 2050 to face the effects of climate change.

Nearly 200 dykes are planned to be reinforced, according to the plan. Better use of fresh water is also planned, as well as making cities more “water-proof.” Designs are being introduced for floating homes, built purposely with space for water to flow. In the Rhine and Maas River deltas in the southwest, the government will be investing in stronger dyke construction, and fortification of existing surge barriers.


The Looming Threat of Rising Seas

A study released in September by the Dutch National Environmental and Living Institute showed one in three dykes or dams did not comply with current safety standards. The report warns, “Looking at the disasters that can hit the Netherlands, a flood will have the largest impact on society.”

“We are safe, but our delta remains vulnerable,” said Environmental Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen in her statement. The need for investing in Dutch protection from the looming threat of rising seas has clear meaning. It means “it’s time for a new… plan with extra protection,” Schultz van Haegen said, as she unveiled the new government plan to the Netherlands Parliament in The Hague.

image (Image note and source: The Hague by hotblack – public domain, from

(Top image note and source: photo taken on December 6, 2013 shows high water at the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier in Oosterschelde,

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