Envisioning retreat

Managed retreat as transformative adaptation

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This thesis addresses the prospected future of climate-induced displacement in the Netherlands; managed retreat as part of a new flood defense strategy for the coastal region.

Climate change, sea-level rise and flood threat are relevant subjects for the Netherlands. However, unlike most delta regions, displacement of parts of the population is not part of Dutch culture anymore. An extensive delta system protects even the lowest parts of the country. Displacement, in this case, is not a direct consequence of sea-level rise, but rather a consequence of how the Dutch government decides to deal with it. The delta strategy is currently in transition, meaning it is unclear what the outcome will be.
The Dutch Delta Programme deals with the uncertainty in sea-level rise predictions by laying out different conceptual scenarios, the most extreme being Move Along. Move Along suggests allowing the ocean to take back parts of the Netherlands. There are more explorative studies on the future of the Dutch coastline. However, none of them incorporate the human aspect in abandoning parts of the country; displacement of part of the population. As sea-level rise is slow-onset, there is time to plan ahead offering opportunity to deal with the displacement in a strategic way.

The project focusses on exploring the potential of combining a strategy for retreat with existing spatial planning goals as a means to deal with the uncertainty of sea-level rise. In addition, this combination creates a shared goal in order to preserve livelihood for the affected population.