Research

Research

Adaptive Delta management: roots and branches

Jos Timmermans (TU&TUD)

Deltas are generally recognized as vulnerable to climate change and therefore a salient topic in adaptation research. Deltas are also highly dynamic systems viewed from physical (erosion, sedimentation, subsidence), social (demographic), economic (metropolization) and cultural (multi-ethnic) perspectives. This multi-faceted dynamic character of deltas is more and more recognized in the international literature (references) and the focus on adaptation science in deltas is broadening from single issue climate adaptation to multi-issue adaptation by integrating socio-economic developments. This broadening of the scope of adaptation science in deltas is warranted by reported pressures on deltas like subsidence, salinization, costal squeeze, scarcity of fresh water resources, water pollution, etc. forced by socio-economic development rather than climate change. This specific characteristic of delta areas warrants the emergence of a new branch of adaptation science, Adaptive Delta Management (ADM) that is multi-issue and multi-faceted.

This article describes the emergence of ADM, its further development in professional circles in The Netherlands, and connect these developments back to their scientific roots in adaptation science. This reconnection supports the further development of ADM propelled by advances in adaptation science and facilitates a more structured discussion of developments in ADM.  Finally, based on this more structured representation of ADM, we describe some upcoming methodological advances in ADM that lay out the research agenda.