Brackish Waters: Integrating Justice in Climate Adaptation and Long-Term Water Management

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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Brackish waters can be found in transition zones between freshwater rivers and saltier seas. These dynamic coastal landscapes harbor multiple functions such as housing, agriculture, nature, and industry. Because of climate change, existing borders between fresh and saline water - and between land and water - are becoming contested. Extreme rainfall, typhoons, heat waves, and droughts occur more frequently and are expected to intensify. Shifting water levels and chloride concentrations affect which livelihoods and land use practices can be sustained in the future.

Land use transformations may be needed to adapt to climate hazards such as flooding, drought, and sea-level rise. Climate risks can be reduced when people or infrastructures are moved out of areas exposed to climate hazards. Examples of these so-called exposure reduction measures are zoning, managed retreat, buy-outs, the elevation of the water table in agricultural land or projects such as the Dutch Room for the River program. However, land use changes are often contested by the people currently living and working on those lands.

This dissertation aims to contribute to the debate about just transitions in climate adaptation and land use transitions in the Netherlands and beyond. Anticipating climate risk also means anticipating conflicts about what to protect and what to let go. Not everyone will agree about the necessity of these adaptation measures, nor about what ‘just’ climate adaptation actually means at the local level. This research therefore describes the prevalence of competing justice claims in multiple adaptation controversies. At the same time, this dissertation further develops a capabilities-based approach to climate adaptation ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Doorn, N., Supervisor
  • Pesch, U., Advisor
Award date4 Apr 2024
Print ISBNs978-94-6384-547-2
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • climate adaptation
  • justice
  • water management
  • conflict
  • involuntary land use change


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