Delta Futures lab

The Delta Futures lab is a multidisciplinary network for students with the ambition to become interdisciplinary leaders in spatial design, engineering and governance of deltas. In thematic working groups they perform mission oriented research to sustain or restore urbanising deltas as sources of economic, social and ecological prosperity.

Stage of the project




Starting Up





Why was this project started?

The TU Delft Strategic Framework 2018-2024, Impact for a better society, calls for a Delft University of Technology contributing to solving global challenges by educating new generations of socially responsible engineers delivering innovative technological solutions for societal problems. Delta Futures Lab embarks on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as excellent guides for realizing this call.

Delta Futures Lab especially aims to contribute to SDGs 2, 6, 9, 11 and 13. Zero Hunger relates to the major contribution of fertile river deltas to agricultural production to be distributed around the globe. SDG 6, Clean water and Sanitation, is at the heart of urbanizing deltas. Without the availability of fresh water, the unprecedented urbanisation of deltas would not have been possible. In many deltas nowadays, unsustainable use and poor management of this indispensable resource turns it into a threat. Subsidence, resulting from overexploitation of groundwater resources, is probably the most dangerous one and climate change induced sea level rise the most unpredictable. Investments in infrastructure for transport, irrigation, energy and information & communication technology are crucial to achieving sustainable development in urbanizing deltas. In deltas the innovation and infrastructure focus of SDG 9, is therefore a central issue. Infrastructures are at the heart of the economic development of deltas, but may also undermine their sustainable development by impeding natural processes of erosion and sedimentation and can cause a decline of biodiversity. A shift from ‘Building in Nature’ towards ‘Building with Nature’ in flood risk protection and port development is thus a major theme of the Delta Futures Lab. SDG 11 emphasizes the importance of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities. Delta management aims to deliver the indispensable physical boundary conditions for the development of these delta cities as hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. To foster urbanising deltas as sources of economic, social and ecological prosperity, contributing to SDG 13, Climate Action, especially climate adaptation, is a final primary focus.

The results of the project so far

Over three years about 100 students have worked in multidisciplinary thematic working groups.
Their work has been published in DeltaLinks, e.g.:

What are specific, distinctive, strong elements in this project?

Trans-disciplinary learning and collaboration

Which specific lessons, do's and don'ts would you like to share? What would be suggestions for others when preparing or implementing the project in their own city?

Students can play an important role in trans-disciplinary collaboration.

Have others adopted, or shown interest in adopting, your idea in their own area?

Yes we are currently discussing to set up a thematic working group for the Zwolle region in collaboration with University of Twente and several local partners

Can you tell us how valuable this project was for you?

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3. Could this project be shared to - and implemented in - your own city?
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