BR.20.020 – Diamonds in the Delta – Towards inclusive, green and climate-proof futures in deltas

Route: The blue route: water as a pathway to innovation and sustainable growth

Cluster question: 011 How can we ensure proper water governance in the future?

Worldwide, people in delta regions are increasingly at risk. Rapid urbanization along riverbanks and in low-lying floodplains, coupled with sea-level rise, land subsidence, salt water intrusion and extreme weather events represent a toxic cocktail, worsening human vulnerability and ecological destruction. In Africa, Asia and Latin America in particular, the livelihoods and habitats of billions of people are under threat. In vulnerable cities like Jakarta (Indonesia), Khulna (Bangladesh), Manilla (Philippines), Beira (Mozambique), and Barranquilla (Columbia), governments have been frantically searching for ways to fend off these threats. At the same time, there is a growing recognition that existing interventions, such as dikes, polders, dams, river diversion schemes and other large-scale infrastructures, often fall short of providing sustainable and inclusive solutions. Such interventions often have huge implications for people’s livelihoods and their right to stay, altering their access to land and other natural resources. Additionally, these interventions are generally designed and implemented by external funders and experts (engineers, consultants etc.) with limited engagement and/or knowledge of local communities, meaning that project impacts are often underestimated or overlooked. Moreover, knowledge about such socio-environmental consequences are usually described at the start of the project as a one-off exercises (in the form of environmental and social impact assessments), but practice shows that such impacts are vastly more complex and unpredictable then a single assessment can anticipate.

Our action research aims to produce novel ways of understanding and supporting transformations towards inclusive, green and climate-proof delta futures. Bringing together partners from academia, civil society, the public and private sectors, our shared interest is to co-develop a human-based, adaptive and context-sensitive approach for infrastructure development. We will focus on a selection of vulnerable delta cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America – interested to collaborate with the Dutch in searching for new ways forward without leaving people behind.


climate change, delta planning, Inclusive development, SDGs, urban flooding

Other organisations

also in collaboration with other knowledge institutes, businesses & consultancy firms and NGOs, Both Ends, Deltares, HE-Delft, ITC-twente, RVO


Organisation Utrecht University (UU)
Name Prof. dr. E. (Annelies) B. Zoomers