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unding to prepare low-lying delta areas for

the impact of climate change is available

from financial institutions such as the World

Bank and the Asian Development Bank, or

from funds such as the Green Climate Fund.

These organisations are happy to invest in

projects of this kind but applicants do need to present

strong arguments.

‘The problem with making adaptation projects

bankable is that flood protection is a public good.

Investments in the required infrastructure don’t

immediately result in products or services that you

can sell’, explains Cees. ‘Even so, the investment has

to be paid back, preferably with interest.’

Secondary benefits

Start by looking at who benefits most from the

investment, is his advice. ‘You could ask the people

exposed to the risk to contribute, either in financial

terms or by investing their labour. You could also look

at the secondary benefits. Planting a mangrove forest

to protect the coast creates fish breeding grounds

at the same time. Fishermen benefit and so they

could also pay some of the costs. The same applies

to people who take twigs from the forest to make


Quite often, it is possible to earn money by combining

functions. A dam in a river to protect the downstream

areas from flooding also creates a water reservoir that

can be used to irrigate agricultural land. That same

dam can also be used for the production of electricity

or for drinking water.

That is not a straightforward process. ‘Government

authorities, but also financial institutions and funds,

often have rules that make it impossible to transfer

money from one sector, such as agriculture, to another.

However, it can be done if you implement an integrated

overall project as separate projects that you finance


Failure probability

It can sometimes be difficult to state the economic

benefits of natural solutions in monetary terms,

explains Cees. Not infrequently, financiers believe

wrongly that natural solutions are more likely to

fail than ‘concrete’ measures and so they ask for a

higher rate of interest. ‘You can only get round that by

establishing without doubt that the failure probability

is the same and that the secondary benefits are

greater. Deltares can help here. We can calculate failure

probabilities for mangrove forests, sand dunes or a dike

with asphalt cladding.’

There is more than enough money to cover investments in climate

adaptation, says Cees van de Guchte, the head of the climate adap­

tation and risk management department at Deltares. But we have

to convince banks that there will be a return on an investment, and

that isn’t always straightforward.