This study takes the stagnation in the transfer of knowledge about strategic delta planning as a starting point and identifies the interplay of constraining factors. We conclude that the way the process of policy transfer is executed is crucial. The Dutch government aims to transfer the Dutch approach to delta planning (labelled ‘the Dutch Delta Approach’) to other – often developing – countries. However, policy transfer is a complex process that depends on a variety of factors. Deadlocks can occur when the transferred knowledge and the corresponding policy ideas are neither adopted nor rejected. Taking the impasse in the transfer process in the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development project in Jakarta as a case study, we demonstrate that fundamental policy change is needed to adopt strategic delta planning in Jakarta and present three interrelated explanations, related to the policy transfer process, that illustrate why this change is not yet observed.