Monitoring and evaluation

The government wants to ensure that the Netherlands is well prepared for the impact of climate change. In 2014, the Delta Decision on Spatial Adaptation was set down to improve our country’s capacity to cope with floods and the impact of extreme precipitation, heat, and drought. In addition, an administrative agreement was concluded.

On 25 May 2016, the national government, the Association of Provincial Authorities, the Association of Netherlands Municipalities, and the Association of Dutch Regional Water Authorities commissioned an interim “learning” evaluation of the course taken. The evaluation commenced at the end of August 2016. It is conducted by ORG-ID, in collaboration with Deltares, Ambient, Sterk Consulting, the University of Amsterdam, and Erasmus University Rotterdam.


The evaluation is intended to verify whether policy is steering a proper course. In addition, it serves as a process of inspiration and reflection to governments and private parties that are engaged in or want to embark on spatial adaptation. The evaluation thus serves a dual purpose in helping realise the transition that spatial adaptation requires.


A so-called “responsive evaluation” method has been chosen to realise the above goals. This evaluation method departs from the perspective of individuals responsible for substantiating policy (here: spatial adaptation) in their specific situations. This yields an informed picture of how “climate-proof and water-resilient” spatial planning is perceived in actual practice. It also identifies the conditions under which the required cultural change can take place. Unlike traditional evaluations, therefore, it does not involve a representative sample to gauge in a quantitative manner the extent to which the policy objectives have been realised. It is yet too early for that. This evaluation helps stakeholders and the principal gain qualitative insight into the elaboration, effectiveness, and impact of the policy pursued under the different circumstances in which spatial adaptation is substantiated in the Netherlands. On the basis of this insight, policy may be adjusted and fleshed out in more detail wherever necessary.

Research questions

The interim evaluation focuses on the following questions:

  • Will the current instrument, measures, and procedures suffice to achieve the 2020 goal, in view of the experiences gained over the past two years, or do they need adjusting or supplementing?
  • What are the success and fail factors in the implementation of the Delta Decision on Spatial Adaptation? How are the regions progressing, and what does this mean for policy and governance?
  • Do the goals formulated in the Delta Decision on Spatial Adaptation, the Spatial Adaptation Incentive Programme, and the goals and agreements of the Approach to National Vital and Vulnerable Functions provide sufficient footing for setting the parties in motion, and for maintaining sufficient momentum in achieving the transition to a water-resilient and climate-proof mindset among public and private parties?

In the context of the evaluation, interviews have been conducted with 50 parties involved, selected on the basis of the nature of their involvement in the Delta Decision on Spatial Adaptation and their geographic spread. Regional and theme meetings have been organised with the parties involved, in order to reflect on the approach (Analysis-Ambition-Action), the instruments available, and the results of spatial adaptation policy with a view to the “reference years” 2020 and 2050 in the Delta Decision.


The outcomes of the evaluation became available in early 2017. The evaluation generates building blocks for the “Spatial Adaptation Delta Plan” to be published on Prinsjesdag 2017, the State opening of Parliament in September.