Adaptive delta management: development, acculturation, and dissemination in Bangladesh and Indonesia

Adaptive Delta Management (ADM) offers an internationally promising and innovative perspective to address uncertainty in long term delta planning. This project aims to develop, acculturate, and dissemination ADM in Bangladesh and Indonesia.

The research design facilitates the development of a network incorporating a multidisciplinary group of researchers, and practitioners, entrepreneurs, and policymakers in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and the Netherlands. To extend the results to professionals from other deltas worldwide, international ADM courses will be organized by World Water Academy and PAO.



Project leader: Prof. ir. W.A.H. (Wil) Thissen (Delft University of Technology)

Consortium partners: E. van Beek (University of Twente), H. Middelkoop (Utrecht University), F. Klijn (Deltares), I. Hadihardaja (ITB Bandung), B. Hargono (PUSAIR Bandung), M. Shah Alam Khan (Buet Dhaka), M. Haque Sarker (CEGIS Dhaka)

Consortium partners (institutions): University of Twente, Utrecht University, Deltares, ITB Bandung, PUSAIR Bandung, Buet Dhaka, CEGIS Dhaka


This research focuses on the problem of long-term planning in highly dynamic deltas under deep uncertainty. Adaptive Delta Management (ADM) is considered an innovative approach to cope with this problem. At this point of the project, familiarization of the PhD candidates and staff from Bangladesh and Indonesia with the key concepts, and development of their research plans provide the first results. For Bangladesh, we have chosen to not only focus on top-down adaptation, but also explicitly include bottom-up, community-level adaptation options. For Indonesia, the choice for Jakarta as case has led us to focus on strategies aiming at long-term urban water security.

Stakeholder workshops have confirmed the relevance of the general approach and have contributed to the focusing of the research proposals. At the same time, experiences thus far have demonstrated the difficulty of transferring an approach that has evolved over many decades in the context of developed countries to a context with different, more short-term planning traditions, and where development rather than protection against uncertain future threats such as Climate Change is central. Therefore, first a turn in the approach is needed that reflects the development oriented ambitions of these countries, as well as their different orientations towards the future. Second, our experiences have confirmed the need for a thorough and integrated approach of long-term delta problems and solutions in the policy analytic tradition. Both in Bangladesh and Indonesia, this will require significant institutional changes to shift from sectoral to integrated approaches, from short-term (5-year) planning to both short- and long-term planning, and from making plans to actual implementation of these plans. While one may question the introduction of yet more advanced approaches in such a context, the depth of the uncertainties faced by developing countries calls for innovative approaches to deal with them.


This research focuses on the urgent problem of long-term planning in highly dynamic deltas under deep uncertainty. Adaptive Delta Management (ADM) is considered an innovative approach to cope with this problem, but yet mainly adopted for robust decision-making in developed countries. We will further develop, acculturate, and disseminate ADM to deltas in developing countries with different physical, socio-economic, cultural and governance settings.

We use an interdisciplinary approach at the interface of natural, socio-economic and policy sciences to develop pilot adaptive policy plans in two developing delta regions. Our development and acculturation of ADM will be strengthened and deepened by our comparative perspective on delta management in Indonesia, Bangladesh and The Netherlands.

We will evaluate and disseminate ADM as an innovative approach, both through local researchers and research activities, and through the development and organisation of post-academic courses and master-classes in cooperation with local and Dutch educational institutions.


Scientific article


Project number

W 07.69.108

Main applicant

Prof. dr. ir. W.A.H. Thissen

Affiliated with

Technische Universiteit Delft, Faculteit Techniek, Bestuur en Management, Policy Analysis

Team members

M.R. Alam, Prof. ir. E. van Beek, Ir. E. de Bruine, Dr. M. Haasnoot, Ir. I.H. Hardaja MSc, T. Al Hosain MSc, Prof. dr. S.A. Khan, U. Kulsum MSc, F. Kusnadi, Dr. ir. J.H. Kwakkel, M.F. Marpaung, Prof. dr. H. Middelkoop, Drs. J. Oost, Dr. M.H. Sarker, Dr. ir. M. Suprapto, Prof. dr. ir. W.A.H. Thissen, Dr. ir. J.S. Timmermans


01/09/2014 to 31/12/2018