A Synthesis on Strategic Delta Planning in Action: Wishful Thinking, Vested Practices and Unexpected Changes

Seijger, Chris; Halsema, Gerardo E. Van; Korbee, Dorien


In this review, we take stock of 10 research articles that cover strategic delta planning processes in Asia, Europe, and the US. We test working hypotheses about consent, innovations, actor coalitions, and planning tools in different phases. We posit that strategic delta planning is a deliberate effort to influence delta developments, wherein wishful thinking on how a delta could develop is repeatedly confronted with vested practices and interests. These confrontations produce expected (e.g., institutional embedment, changing people’s minds) and unexpected changes (e.g., actors suddenly consenting or stepping out). Strategic delta planning is therefore not only an ambitious planning process, it is also highly uncertain, as consent on strategic directions has to be renegotiated across phases and arenas. Recommendations for practice are therefore highlighted that cover vocabulary, persuasiveness and tools. Further research is proposed to study the vagaries of strategic delta plans in urbanising deltas.