Supporting Climate Adaptation Decision Making: The Netherlands Experience

Jan Kwakkel, Marjolijn Haasnoot, Warren Walker

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


A changing climate and ongoing socio-economic developments are putting severe stress on water management practices in many deltaic countries in the world, including the Netherlands. To address this, the Dutch initiated a new Delta Program, which aimed at developing a strategy for keeping the Netherlands safe from floods and droughts during this century. The challenge faced by the Delta Program is how to proactively address deep uncertainty in the long-term management of the Dutch Delta. Future climatological conditions, socio-economic developments, land use patterns, and social preferences are deeply uncertain, interconnected, changing dynamically over time, and co-evolve with each other and any water management actions that are taken. In light of this, existing predictive and scenario-based approaches were deemed inadequate. Instead, an adaptive planning approach called dynamic adaptive policy pathways emerged. This approach explicitly considers that adaptation decisions are taken over time. Therefore, we need to explore the future and sequences of decisions (adaptation pathways). It emphasizes that any plan should commit to short-term actions, specify a range of long-term options, and establish a monitoring framework for guiding the implementation of these options if and when necessary. In order to develop such adaptation pathways, the way in which models are used is changed from prediction to exploration. This adaptive approach, applied in the Netherlands under the label of Adaptive Delta Management, is now being adopted in a wide variety of countries. In this talk, we will introduce the adaptation pathways approach and discuss how it emerged in the Netherlands. We will also present various examples of how the design of adaptation pathways, and the decision making using them, can be supported using exploratory modeling approaches, simulation gaming, and game structuring techniques. Examples will be drawn from the Netherlands as well as from other countries
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventOR58 Annual Conference - Dennis Sciama Building, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Sep 20168 Sep 2016


ConferenceOR58 Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleOR58
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

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