Sustainable Delta Game

Purpose of the tool
The Sustainable Delta Game is a tool that simulates the interaction between the water system and society. During a workshop with the Delta Game a dialogue is facilitated between professionals from different backgrounds. The tool provides insights in possible responses in different circumstances and helps participants to learn about preparing for an uncertain future.

The game can be used for:

  • Learning about water system impacts
  • Learning about adaptive policy making and adaptation pathways
  • Discussion about scenarios and sustainable water management
  • A stakeholder process
  • Discussing and developing innovative solutions

Target group
This strategic serious game is for professionals involved in the development of multi-year management of rivers.

Tool description
The Sustainable Delta game provides an abstracted, generalized version of a Delta management case. The participants, who have the role of river manager, get the task of managing the water system of an area. In every interactive round, users will be confronted with the evolvement of river runoff and related impacts on safety, damage, shipping and ecology and societal changes and events. Participants will receive feedback on their chosen policies by a simulation based on an environmental model. The tool uses the Pressure State Impact Response (PSIR) concept to describe the interaction between water (PSI) and social system (R). In the PSI part, a rapid assessment model calculates the effects of different scenarios and measures. In the response part, players can negotiate water management measures in the policy arena. However, policy makers can be constrained by a lack of public support. At the end of the game, players will get an overview of their policies and the effects, to facilitate evaluation. The game can be played with up to 50 participants. The simulation is over when the user has managed the river for 100 years, which takes about four hours.

Result description
The game has been played on many occasions, of which some are mentioned in the tool in practice section
The pictures illustrate what the game looks like.

The tool in practice
The Sustainable Delta Game has been played at different conferences such as the conference Deltas in Times of Climate Change. The participants were very enthusiastic and actively engaged. It gave a clear insight in the relation between water system measures and the connection with society. The game also provided the participants with the opportunity to explore different strategies and find out robust measurements for an adaption strategy. The participants learned that each strategy has its own short and long term that it is effective in. The game also includes a warning: policy makers tend to react on events rather than to anticipate on climate variability.

Necessary inputs and conditions
To play the game, one needs a computer with the software and the workshop box with a map and policy cards.

Contact data
The Sustainable Delta Game was developed in collaboration with the Universities of Utrecht, Maastricht and Twente, Carthago Consultancy, Pantopicon and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).
More information.

Contact person:

Phase and tool category: Agenda Setting | Governance

Spatial scale and time scale
Spatial scale ranging from global through river basin to local.
Time scale: a century.

Tool availability
There is a free online version available , proffesional assistance available through the contact persons.
There is a 3D digitalized version of the game developed (Youtube movie).   

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