The Freshwater Sub-Programme of the Delta Programme carried out a scenario analysis to look at the physical effects of a growing discrepancy between water supply and demand as a result of climate change and socio-economic growth. Two extreme climate change scenarios, namely M (Moderate) and W+ (Warm), were combined with two extreme socio-economic growth scenarios, RC (Regional Communities, moderate economic growth) and GE (Global Economy, rapid economic growth). SEO Economic Research was asked to estimate the increase in costs due to the resulting four Delta Scenarios, STEAM (W+, GE), WARM (W+, RC), BUSY (M, GE) and REST (M, RC), for the various uses of freshwater with policy remaining unchanged (current policy).

The analysis shows that the economic effects of the Delta Scenarios on freshwater would be greatest in farming and inland shipping, with maximum annual effects of 733 and 369 million euros respectively. The maximum impact on nature in terms of ‘nature points’ is -4,360 points, a 7% decrease. The estimated damage to uses in the Delta Scenarios provides an indication of the potential benefits of policy measures. If the cost of a policy proposal is greater than the potential benefit the proposal is likely to have a poor cost-benefit ratio. The cost of problems can therefore be used as a ‘filter’ for selecting policy proposals taking any associated benefits into account.