Deltaworks, Zeeland, The Netherlands
Catastrophic flooding in The Netherlands in 1953 led to the construction of the Deltaworks. From 1958 to 1997 a series of dams, sluices, dikes and storm-surge barriers were constructed. The aim was to increase The Netherlands’ resilience to future flooding by shortening the Dutch coast line by 640-700 kilometers. It created one of the greatest engineering feats of the modem wortd and it struck a balance between biodiversity and sodetat needs.
Climate change will affect the frequency and severity of flooding in the Netherlands. Rising sea levels aren’t the only threat, with changing river discharges also playing a role. Currently around 9 million people live below sea level and the question will be if the Netherlands can continue to buy its adaptation to climate change. One estimate is that it will cost 0.2% of GDP to dimate-proof the Netherlands to rising water levels for 2100.
The fact that The Netherlands can afford these enginering marvels underscores a key difference between developed and developing countries. Climate change will disproportionately affect the poorer people on this planet. Although more infrastructure investment may be the solution for The Netherlands, it is far out of reach for many other countries in this world.