Two out of every three Dutch people already live below sea level. Now, with climatologists predicting sea levels will rise a further 0.8 meters, the Netherlands is rolling out a radical new action plan that overturns three centuries of flood engineering. For hundreds of years the Dutch have relied on a complex network of sea walls, flood defenses and drainage canals to protect themselves from flooding. But this old doctrine of keeping out the water at all costs has been superseded. The new approach – “soft engineering” – allows land to be sacrificed to flooding in controlled spaces.