How the Second Delta Committee set the agenda for climate adaptation policy: A Dutch case study on framing strategies for policy change

Simon H. Verduijn
Radboud University Nijmegen, Institute for Management Research; s.verduijn@fm.ru.nl
Sander V. Meijerink
Radboud University Nijmegen, Institute for Management Research; s.meijerink@fm.ru.nl
Pieter Leroy
Radboud University Nijmegen, Institute for Management Research; p.leroy@fm.ru.nl

ABSTRACT: In 2008, the Second State Delta Committee, commissioned by the Dutch Secretary of Public Works and Water Management, provided suggestions on how to defend the Netherlands against the expected impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, longer periods of drought, more intense periods of rainfall and additional land subsidence over the coming two hundred years (Veerman, 2008). In this paper we show that even though no crisis actually occurred, the Second Delta Committee succeeded in three areas. First, the committee managed to create awareness and set the agenda for climate adaptation policy and the issue of safety in Dutch water management. Second, the committee succeeded to a large extent in getting the media, the public and politics to accept its frame and framing of the problems, causes, moral judgments and suggested remedies. Third, the committee has to a certain degree already succeeded in having its recommendations translated into policy programmes. It will be argued that framing strategies were key to the committee'€™s success and that the committee used various framing strategies to convince the Cabinet, citizens and others of the urgency and necessity of implementing adaptation measures. The most important framing strategies identified were adherence to the climate adaptation narrative, using the story of our delta identity, creating a sense of urgency and collectiveness, and creating a crisis narrative.

KEYWORDS: Framing strategies, agenda setting, policy change, crises, climate change, the Netherlands