Due to its coastal location and the fact that it serves as a delta to major river systems, the Netherlands is one of the most flood-prone areas in Europe. Consequently, managing flooding has a long tradition. Historically, flood management is characterised by a technical defence approach to reduce the probability of flooding. Nowadays, the frequency of major flooding from the rivers and the coast is limited because embankments protect 55 percent of the country's area. The defence approach is effective, as it is well institutionalised and securely financed. Nevertheless, the way the Dutch think about and deal with floods is changing due to aggravating challenges in the form of climate change and socio-economic developments. Technical defence structures will remain an important strategy in the future. But programmes like 'Room for the river' or the 'deltaprogramma' have initiated a paradigm shift by introducing a more comprehensive flood risk management approach. On the one hand, this new approach focuses on reducing both the probability and the consequences of flooding (e.g. resilient spatial planning, emergency management). On the other hand, it also broadens the governance of flood risk management from a water sector-specific task towards an integrated approach that includes all actors of the polder model. However, this paradigm shift is still in development as traditional approaches are only slowly adjusted. Nevertheless, the 'deltaprogramma' took the first steps to adapt the Netherlands to climate change.
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