If you follow the prescription of Rotterdam’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy we profiled in our first article on the innovative city, multi-use urban planning is the future of climate adapted cities.
We already build multiple functions into our construction–think train stations that function as shopping malls or the local grocery store with tenants above.
But what if your home functioned as a flood-proof building, a heat reducer, as well as a reservoir for flood waters, filtering the rain slowly back into your communal groundwater table? This type of development, and its inclusion in all urban planning, is the leadership on city design that is resonating from the Netherlands.
Finding Opportunity in a Changing Climate
After a massive weather event overwhelmed the city in the 1950s, there has been concerted effort to create a town that can withstand a “once in 10,000 year” storm.
As leading innovators in the Connecting Delta Cities Network (CDC), Rotterdam bases its Climate Change Adaptation Strategy on four different scenarios impacted by the climate stability and socio-economic environment they can anticipate for their city.
Source Credit: Rotterdam Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
Of four key principles to their Adaptation strategy: providing value for the environment, society, economy and ecology is number four. The mayor ties in socio-economic wellbeing to an environmental preparedness planned around the best projections of weather realities in 2100:
‘Environmental and social resilience should go hand in hand…Climate adaptation, if addressed head-on and properly, ought to yield a stronger, richer state.”
A Richer State
With Rotterdam listed as “the perfect showcase for climate change adaptation,” there are 12 other cities in the CDC. Through a series of bilateral agreements, they share access to advanced research on strategies and predictions that inform public policy developments.
The profile of the city of Rotterdam has been elevated by their leadership. At least 25 international delegates visit the city every year to grow expert networks in the mitigation field. Environmental consulting firms in the country benefit as well, winning international contracts for adaptation strategies.
A Stronger State
One of the keenest strengths to Rotterdam’s success in water management is the structure of their administration. Independently elected, three democratic agencies comprise the water authority in Rotterdam. Separate from other government structures, their only mandate is water quality and availability. This creates a safety net in changing political and economic tides: water is always treated as a priority in the decisionmaking process.
One of the most highly sought capacities of Rotterdam by the CDC is the exportation of this type of administrative oversight.
Reducing our Future Losses By Building Resilient Coastal Communities
As historic storms in the U.S. and the Caribbean remind us of increased storm severity and frequency, we must remind ourselves that “recover” does not mean to rebuild everything as it once was.
After immediate concerns, recovering our lost resources is arguably one of the largest tragedies in this new narrative of storm destruction. The sourcing of minerals and the extractive practices to replace lost possessions and infrastructure will result in more death and long-term turmoil abroad. In the larger narrative of resource loss and energy emissions, we need to ensure that this round of destruction yields communities that won’t have to pull on our Earth’s resources in much the same way anymore. (photo – Hurricane Harvey, Business insider)
There is a practicality in the coastline assessments we see modeled by Rotterdam. Consider their example to urban planning. Determine the resources, vulnerabilities, and best technology for building a new normal that projects 100 years into the future.
By Caitlin Flannery, Blue Ocean Contributor
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