Deltas under Pressure

Due to climate change and urban development, deltas are under pressure. Quick changes like climate change, salinization, water quality problems, floods and droughts, make adjustments in agricultural production necessary. An interdisciplinary research team of WUR work in an integrated manner on sustainable transition pathways in agriculture in deltas, with the ultimate goal to contribute to the sustainable development goal ‘Zero Hunger’ (SDG2).


Deltas, where land and water meet, are often vulnerable areas, important for humans and nature. Food production plays an important role. The complex human and natural systems in delta are under pressure due to climate change and urban development. Due to quick changes in sea level rise, temperature and precipitation changes, salinization, water quality issues, floods, waterlogging and droughts, agricultural production is no longer certain. What will happen in future? Where will food come from? Can we envisage sustainable pathways, and can a food systems analysis help us to do so? An interdisciplinary research team of WUR works in this project ‘Deltas under Pressure’ in an integrated manner towards visualizing sustainable transition pathways for agriculture in deltas and towards solutions, in order to contribute to sustainable development goal ‘Zero Hunger’ (SDG2).

Examples of Deltas under Pressure

Examples of deltas under pressure are the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and Bangladesh, which is, like the Netherlands, a delta country.

The Vietnamese agriculture is dynamic. Farmers in the Mekong Delta are used to adjust to the changing circumstances. Farmers are well organized in cooperatives, that strive to improve the position of farmers. Government, universities, cooperatives and other parties jointly operate in the production chain.

In Bangladesh the transition towards climate resilience is very important. The transition of food system is related to it, and does not only imply adjustment of farmers, but also requires new solutions how to link farmers and goals at national level. The recently approved Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 provides direction to new programs and plans.

In both deltas we use the analysis of the food system to get insight, linking the local level production system to the national level. In the case of the Mekong, we start with the local level, while in Bangladesh we start from the national perspective.