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International partnership for stronger urban deltas

Twelve countries are to work together more to prevent water-related disasters and boost urban deltas’ resilience to climate change. They are the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, France, Myanmar, Indonesia, Japan, Mozambique, the Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam. This International Delta Coalition is being launched on 10 May.

Delta, water safety, water management

Photographer: Tineke Dijkstra 

Climate conference in Rotterdam

Melanie Schultz van Haegen, the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, gave the official starting signal for the International Delta Coalition at the Adaptation Futures 2016 Conference in Rotterdam, the first major adaptation conference since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed, and the largest yet held on this theme. Around 1,700 people from over 100 countries have come to Rotterdam to tackle the global challenge of climate change adaptation.

Adapting to climate change

As holder of the EU Presidency, the Netherlands is hosting the conference on 10, 11 and 12 May. In her opening speech Ms Schultz stressed the importance of adaptation. ‘Even if we manage to cut carbon emissions to a minimum, we need to adapt to a changing world. We mustn’t just respond to change, we need to anticipate the future. It’s about preventing disasters. Besides saving lives, it’s also a logical economic investment. Every euro we spend on prevention generates another seven euros.’

Delta countries share knowledge

Ms Schultz expressed delight that the Delta Coalition had now been launched. ‘In a very short time, we’ve struck an ambitious partnership between 12 countries from four continents. This is a historic achievement. For the first time in history, an international coalition has been set up in which delta countries can exchange knowledge, experience and ideas and directly link them to international agreements and national implementation. All these countries are aware of the enormous risks associated with life in delta regions and are determined to put this theme at the top of the agenda.’

Urban deltas vulnerable

Urban deltas are in the front line of the battle against climate change. It is these regions that are hardest hit by the impact of water pollution, flooding, salinisation, and limited freshwater resources and sanitation. And yet these are also the areas that are the most fertile, in which most income is generated, and that are increasingly densely populated. By 2050, around 650 million people will live in urban deltas.

Three objectives

The Delta Coalition has three key objectives:

  • To get urban deltas on the agenda worldwide. By climbing the stage themselves, the delta countries hope to garner broad international support for investment in multilateral (climate) funds.
  • To enhance protection in all countries by sharing knowledge, experience and good practices. Knowledge institutes like the Delta Alliance will work together to establish a robust infrastructure of delta expertise.
  • Countries will work together to achieve national and international goals. A good example of this is the ongoing cooperation between Indonesia, Korea and the Netherlands in tackling flooding problems in Jakarta. The Dutch concept of Disaster Risk Reduction Teams will also be expanded into international partnerships.

Expanding the Delta Coalition

The Minister hopes that it will not remain a club of 12 countries. ‘The bigger the Delta community, the more brainpower and willpower we will have to create safe, sustainable and strong urban deltas. In this way, the Delta Coalition can expand to become a hub of expertise, experience and ideas on how to make urban deltas around the globe future proof.’


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