Vulnerability to climate change

Insight into the vulnerability to weather extremes constitutes the basis for climate adaptation. The Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation stimulates that municipalities, district water boards, and provinces must have mapped out the Netherlands’ vulnerability to weather extremes by means of stress tests by no later than 2019. The Delta Plan seeks to expedite and intensify climate adaptation, in order for the Netherlands to be water-resilient and climate-proof by 2050.

Stress tests

In 2017, the Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation will develop a standard stress test, in collaboration with a wide range of parties. The use of a standardised stress test will obviate the need for every party to re-invent the wheel, will facilitate the exchange of experience, and will generate a first national picture of the extent of our vulnerability to weather extremes.

The standardised stress test will enable municipalities to map out the climate taskings for their built-up and undeveloped areas in a simple and intercomparable manner, in collaboration with district water boards, provinces, and other partners. The stress test will assess an area’s vulnerability to or risk of waterlogging, heat, drought, and urban flooding (second layer of flood risk management). In addition, it will focus attention on vital and vulnerable functions.


Climate change will cause more frequent extreme precipitation. Anticipating such events will prevent future damage.


As a result of climate change, summers will become hotter. Furthermore, heat waves will last longer. Heat has various consequences; for example, it affects labour productivity and entails health risks, e.g., for elderly people.


As the climate is changing, periods of drought will occur more frequently in the future and last longer. Of the four threats, drought accounts for the most serious damage. Cases in point are, e.g., pole rot, soil subsidence, and low water levels obstructing the navigability of rivers.

Urban flooding

The Netherlands is protected by strong dykes. Should urban flooding occur nonetheless, spatial measures may help to restrict its impact. Such measures hold particular promise in highly flood-prone areas, with low flood depths, and the capacity to remedy flooding quickly.