“Can’t escape the WaterScape: transforming water and governance systems for dealing with climate impacts in the Dutch Delta.”

With an increasing frequency and intensity of floods and droughts, increasing water demand, and problems of land subsidence and salt-water intrusion, it becomes apparent that the present water system in the Netherlands cannot be maintained. A water transition is needed from rapidly discharging water and preventing floods, to storing water and living and farming with water to improve dealing with droughts, poor water quality and limited freshwater availability.

WaterScape supports this transition by developing innovative storylines for waterscapes. Waterscapes are climate robust and adaptive water systems at landscape scale. WaterScape will enable waterscapes by treating governance and physical design as equally important parts of the required water transition and, hence, storylines. As part of the storylines, WaterScape will develop transformation pathways for both the physical and the water governance system, that are based on rethinking climate impacts, desired future scenarios and existing system functions, organizing inconvenient dialogues with stakeholders, and exploring required changes within the governance context. WaterScape will embed these pathways within governance arrangements that enable coordination and adaptation of policy investments in the water system. By involving key stakeholders in the design, production and dissemination of knowledge, we do not only focus on designing for the ideal situation from a physical perspective, but focus on designing for concrete and possible short-term and longer-term changes of physical measures, water management principles, and governance.