Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen: re-designing the Netherlands to cope with weather extremes

Rendering the Netherlands resilient against extreme weather, such as torrential rain and prolonged drought, requires additional investments over the years to come. Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management) addressed the House of Representatives regarding her proposal to amend the Water Act, in order to boost the funds available to tackle waterlogging. Furthermore, the Minister aims to provide short-term government support to climate adaptation projects. To this end, she will be setting aside an additional sum of nearly 5 million euros this year to support five regional pilot projects which will be rolled out in the very near future.

‘We need to quickly step up our efforts and re-design our streets, gardens, cities, and rural areas. This is the only way for us to properly prepare for the impact that more extreme weather conditions will have on our environment. Take, for example, the torrential rains that have flooded entire residential neighbourhoods because local greenery is insufficient to cope with such volumes in a natural way,’ Ms Van Nieuwenhuizen commented. ‘The five pilots I will be co-funding this year are fine examples for other provinces, district water boards, and municipalities to copy. An amendment to the Water Act will enable us to use money from the Delta Fund to up our investments in measures to protect the Netherlands against weather extremes.’

Financial impetus

Out of the 24 applications for a financial impetus, the Minister has selected the pilot projects initiated by the municipalities of Eindhoven, Horst aan de Maas, Dordrecht and Enschede, and the province of Gelderland. For example, the city of Dordrecht is constructing a new urban park that will serve as a natural climate buffer, in order to reduce waterlogging in surrounding districts and enable them to cope with heat. The city of Enschede is planning to construct an urban brook, which will prevent flooding in the Pathmos and Stadsveld districts during extreme and prolonged rainfall.

Administrative agreement

The administrative agreement on Climate Adaptation, set down at the end of 2018, stipulates that in the years ahead, some 600 million euros will be set aside to tackle issues ensuing from climate change. Some of these resources will go to local and regional governments to help them give impetus to their so-called climate adaptation efforts. A sum of some 5 million euros has been made available, as it was last year, to support various pilot projects. Once the amendment to the Water Act has entered into force, it will be possible, with effect from January 2021, to allocate money from the Delta Fund to climate adaptation projects. As yet, the annual amount available of some 1 billion euros could only be invested in coastal protection, flood protection in the areas around the major rivers, and the freshwater supply.