Deltaic environments are often densely populated with high socio-economic values, and thus are hotspots of climatic, environmental and anthropogenic change. Large scale engineered structures, such as dike systems, have played an important role in shaping both environmental and socio-economic conditions in deltas, with such interventions more likely where there is a high population and a wealthy economy. Engineered interventions interact with the morphological evolution of the delta, reducing or removing sedimentation and accelerating subsidence, increasing the consequences of flooding and necessitating further adaptation. They also encourage further development, reinforcing this feedback. Thus, in these cases, the deltaic landscape and associated livelihoods can be considered to be the result of a coevolution process between natural delta processes and human engineered interventions. This paper explores this hypothesis. It analyses the history of large scale engineering interventions and their implications in five representative, large, populated deltas across the globe (Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna, Yangtze, Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt, Mekong and Nile). The results demonstrate coevolution has occurred and indicate that the response type and the management approach of these engineered structures have significant implications for future delta development. To understand and manage unintended consequences and the development of lock-in trajectories in deltas, a systematic understanding of delta development, including these coevolution processes is essential.