Lift off for the Delta Alliance

A global network of delta cities and provinces, from Jakarta to San Francisco Bay, will work together to find solutions to common climate challenges under a new organisation launched in Holland yesterday.

The Delta Alliance aims to boost resilience in the world’s low-lying deltas, which are home to more than half the world’s population and are particularly vulnerable to the effects of sea-level rise, salt-water intrusion and subsidence.

The body is headquartered in the Netherlands and has three other activity hubs in Indonesia, California and Vietnam, all of which are grappling with climate-related challenges. The land beneath Jakarta, a city of 8.5 million people with 13 rivers running through it, is subsiding at a rate of one to 10 centimetres per year. Flood risk in the Netherlands’ port city of Rotterdam is expected to increase by a factor of 10 by 2050 due to sea-level rise.

Speaking at the alliance’s official launch at an international adaptation conference in Rotterdam, chairman Kees Slingerland said the organisation would strive to be more than a talking shop.

He said: “We have to talk, we have to connect, but we have to show that international cooperation is not only talking but bringing realistic programmes.”

The network’s activities will include joint research and demonstration projects as well as symposiums and workshops.

Slingerland said that other countries, including China, were already involved in the alliance in addition to the four core partners, and that the network planned to expand soon.

Speaking in the opening session, Ren Wenwei from WWF China explained the value of the network to China. He said: “The Yangtze Delta, for example, plays a huge role in China’s economic development, but it’s also a very important ecosystem, and sometimes economic development and nature conservation conflict. So we want to learn from other deltas how to manage and learn from different stakeholders.”