The 2014 climate scenarios of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) show that droughts in the Netherlands are taking place with increasing frequency since 1951. There are strong expectations that this trend will continue.
Already in the 1990s, the Dutch government set targets to reduce the number of dry areas in the country, by 25% in 2000 compared to 1985 and by 40% in 2010. In 2002 the Alterra research institute concluded that these targets were far from attainment: in the year 2000 the reduction amounted to 3% only. Alterra identified procedural and policy bottlenecks.
Extremely dry summers in 2018 and 2019 resulted in economic losses and degradation of ecosystems. They also led to the creation of a ‘policy table’ on drought by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water to discuss the problem with various stakeholders, and present recommendations. The following year, 2020, then beat the precipitation deficit records of 1976. The 2020 Delta Programme urgently requests additional sweet water supplies in the eastern and southern parts of the Netherlands to be realised. Putting in place programmes to improve soil quality is another relevant policy measure the Dutch government is considering.