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In the Netherlands, embankments such as the 32-km Afsluitdijk protect the Dutch against rising sea levels. Without them, some 12 million people – out of the country’s 17 million – could be flooded.

With climate change, the risk of extreme weather increases. If a superstorm hit the Netherlands and the dikes burst, 3 to 5 metres of water would engulf the land. A catastrophic scenario.

About 60 percent of the Dutch live in areas below sea level. Flood damage could cost the Netherlands more than 100 billion euros, and parts of the country would no longer be inhabitable.

Richard Jorissen, Managing Director of the Dutch Flood Protection Programme, explains how climate change can cause water to become an ever bigger part of the picture in the Netherlands.

“Climate change may cause increased river discharge, but it may also cause sea levels and lake levels to rise, so the water level downstream may go up as well,” he said.

While his team errs on the side of caution and prepares for an even higher risk of flooding than current projections suggest, sea levels are rising at an increasingly steep rate, which makes them tough to predict, Jorissen said.

The Netherlands fights floods by beefing up dunes and beaches, making rivers wider, and using a network of 17,600 kilometres of dikes.

These investments have made the Dutch masters of flood safety. Now, the country is “pitching this expertise” abroad:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/15/world/europe/netherlands-sets-model-of-flood-prevention.html and it has turned flood prevention into a 7-billion-euro export product.

The Netherlands in particular designed solutions for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and is now helping Jakarta build a giant sea wall to protect the Indonesian capital from sinking. https://www.voanews.com/a/as-jakarta-sinks-government-pins-hopes-on-bird-shaped-sea-wall/3670152.html

Video produced by Ingrid Cobben


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