7.3.2

Heat stress

City warmer than rural areas

According to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, heat stress may soon have a major impact on the population in the near future. Additional consequences could include, e.g., the expansion of moving bridges, which prevents the bridge from closing or opening.


According to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, heat stress may soon have a major impact on the population in the near future.

Source: Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2014. Aanpassen aan klimaatverandering. Kwetsbaarheden zien, kansen grijpen [Adaptation to climate change. Identifying vulnerabilities, capitalising on opportunities]. PBL publication 1454.

During the summer, urban environments are an average of 1ºC warmer than rural environments. Occasionally, the night-time temperature difference may rise to more than 7ºC. For that reason, minimum temperatures tend to remain fairly high. This is an important factor in the negative impact of heat, especially if it results in minimum temperatures exceeding 20°C. The KNMI climate scenarios show that around 2050, the summers will only become warmer. Heat stress may also occur in rural areas, and proximity to water does not by definition have a cooling effect. For example, during the recent hot spells in August and September 2016, the coastal province of Zeeland ranked among the warmest regions of the Netherlands. On some days, the KNMI weather stations in Zeeland outside the urban areas even recorded national highs, with occasional minimum temperatures remaining higher than 20°C. Other significant contributing factors to heat stress, in addition to temperature, are shade, ventilation (wind), and humidity.


Occasionally, the night-time temperature difference may rise to more than 7ºC.

CPC report, Rovers et al., 2015.

Health effects are expanding

Heat stress-related health problems are not just caused by the heat itself, but also by the combination of heat and air pollution (high ozone content and summer smog). Heat stress affects increasingly more people due to growing urbanisation and population ageing, and the fact that vulnerable people continue to live independently for longer. Among vulnerable groups, heat stress can result in rising absentee rates, increased illness, and premature death. During the heatwave that plagued Europe in 2003, the number of deaths in the Netherlands totalled 1,400 more than usual.

Low sense of urgency, limited knowledge

The prevention of heat stress is still insufficiently perceived as urgent. In recent years, more information has become available on the health consequences of extreme heat and potential courses of action for residents, organisations, and governments. However, this information is still quite fragmentary, and does not always end up with the parties that could give impetus to a reduction of the risks or a change in behaviour. There is a great deal to be learned from parties that have already developed and deployed instruments. For example, the municipalities of Rheden, The Hague, and Utrecht, and the province of Zeeland have compiled heat maps and explored adaptations in the spatial design aimed at reducing heat stress in the medium or long run, such as greening public spaces and urban restructuring. Knowledge about the health effects of heat is available, in particular from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM, the area health authorities, and the Red Cross. The National Climate Adaptation Strategy identifies heat stress as one of the most urgent climate risks for the decades ahead.

  1. Cover letter and Delta Programme Commissioner’s recommendations
  2. Introductory summary
    1. Continuing the work on a sustainable and safe delta
  3. Part I National level
  4. Progress of the Delta Programme
    1. Progress based on Monitoring, Analysing, Acting
    2. General picture of the progress
      1. On schedule
      2. On track
      3. Integrated approach
      4. Participation
      5. Effectiveness of the regions
    3. Progress in flood risk management
    4. Progress in spatial adaptation
    5. Progress in freshwater supply
    6. Embedding, knowledge and innovation, international collaboration
      1. Embedding
      2. Knowledge
      3. Innovation
      4. International efforts
  5. Delta Fund
    1. Developments in the Delta Fund
    2. Resources from other partners
    3. The financial taskings of the Delta Programme
    4. Financial security of the Delta Programme
  6. Part II Regions
  7. Progress per region
    1. IJsselmeer Region/freshwater supply region IJsselmeer Region
    2. Rhine Estuary-Drechtsteden/West-Netherlands freshwater supply region
    3. Rhine/ Area around the major rivers freshwater supply region
    4. Meuse
    5. Southwest Delta/Southwest Delta freshwater supply region
    6. The Coast
    7. Wadden Region
    8. Elevated Sandy Soils South and East
  8. Part III Delta Plans
  9. Delta Plan on Flood Risk Management
    1. Implementation programmes
      1. Flood Protection Programme
      2. Second Flood Protection Programme
      3. Room for the River
      4. Meuse Projects
      5. WaalWeelde
      6. IJsselmeer Closure Dam
      7. Repair of Oosterschelde and Westerschelde stone claddings - Zeeland foreland deposits
    2. River widening in interconnection with dyke improvement
    3. Studies ensuing from knowledge agenda and in regions
  10. Map Flood risk management measures
  11. Delta Plan on Freshwater Supply
    1. Measures to ensure the availability of freshwater in the Netherlands
  12. Map Freshwater supply measures
  13. Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation
    1. Introduction
      1. Justification
      2. Aim and state of affairs of the Delta Plan
      3. Collective realisation
    2. Context
    3. “Analysis, Ambition, Action” – state of affairs
      1. Waterlogging
      2. Heat stress
      3. Drought
      4. Consequences of urban flooding
      5. Current approach
    4. Our intentions: expediting and intensifying
      1. Vision: from the present to 2050
      2. Ambition and strategy
      3. Interim goals
      4. Nationwide governance framework regarding spatial adaptation
      5. Funding
    5. Appendix 1. Action programme
    6. Appendix 2. Outcomes of regional meetings and round table discussions
  14. List of Background Documents
    1. Background documents
  15. Colophon
    1. Colophon content Delta Programme 2018
  16. How to use Delta Programme 2018