Bottom up Adaptation Strategies for a Sustainable Europe

Balancing adaptation for fresh water supply and flood risk management (IJsselmeer, the Netherlands)


The Climate Challenge

The IJsselmeer is a large, artificial lake that supplies fresh water to large parts of the Netherlands and also serves to reduce flood risk due to its enclosure of the Wadden Sea. The IJsselmeer region has a number of small and large cities vulnerable to climate impacts such as flooding from sea level rise. A second concern is more frequent and longer-lasting summer dry spells. In case of droughts, the water from the IJsselmeer is essential to supply agriculture and industry in the north of the Netherlands with additional freshwater.


The Adaptation Response

To maintain the current functions of the lake while simultaneously adapting to sea level rise and drought, the Deltaprogramme IJsselmeer proposed measures aimed at raising the lake’s water level of the lake in sync with sea level rise to avoid flooding and ensuring the flexibility of the water level during summer droughts to secure freshwater for agriculture, nature and other purposes. The program carried out a problem analysis based on the delta-scenarios in 2011. In 2012, they developed possible strategies and in 2013 they made more detailed studies of the preferred strategies, leading to the policy decision consisting of five solutions in 2014.


The People and Institutions Involved

The Delta Programme was set up as a national programme, so by definition, all relevant local and regional governments were actively involved: the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, the water boards, the provinces and relevant municipalities. Knowledge institutes such as Deltares, PBL (the Dutch Planning Institute) and KNMI (the Dutch Meteorological Institute) assisted in developing delta scenarios and impact assessments.

In the IJsselmeer sub-programme, local politicians and officials were involved in a regional collaboration body and in a smaller steering group, both of which formed the most important arena to discuss the progress of the programme. Ten important NGO’s in the region were clustered into one representative stakeholder action group representing their individual stakes, including sustained fresh water supply with a good quality, fishery, nature, harbours, tourism and agriculture.


The Outcome of Action

There is a combined package of five solutions implemented, based on a more flexible management regime of the water level. The first two are mainly related to flood risk; namely establishing draining and pumping capabilities to manage more flexible water levels as well as dykes. The latter three are focussed on fresh water supply, such as facilitating adjustments of assets and spatial design along the lake’s shores and reducing freshwater usage.



Deltares: Rutger van der Brugge,

Wageningen UR: Mark Zandvoort,


Relevant Links


Full Report

The full report of this case study can be read here.


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