In the Netherlands two out of three people already live below sea level. Faced with a further rise in sea level of up to 0.8 metres, the country is developing a radical national action plan that turns three centuries of flood engineering on its head. Soft engineering allows land to be sacrificed to rivers and the sea and learning to live with flood waters rather trying to hold them back.
The government’s response is a National Water Plan, an overhaul of the country’s defences costing billions of euros.The initiative is designed also to raise public awareness of the dangers of climate change.One example of this work involves one thousand hectares (2,500 acres) that will become a flood zone.
Tineke Huizinga explains,”We used to have these dykes to keep the water in place, but now we have learnt we have to make places where the water can flow in [floods].It is an enormous project through the whole country for more than 40 places where we have to ‘make room for the river’, as we call it.”