We need to apply special measures, based on accurate facts and data, to build safe and resilient future urban environments. In the near future, when a lot of building projects will need to restart, it will be important to take the right decisions regarding investing in long-term solutions to lower both costs and climate impact. To reinforce the urgency of selecting future proofed investments, Sweco earlier this year arranged an international Urban Insight Climate Lecture. Arnoud Molenaar, Chief Resilience Officer for Rotterdam, was invited by Sweco to share best practise and participate in a dialogue about on Climate Actions.
Climate Action expert Martijn Steenstra sr. Consultant Water Management and Spatial Planning at Sweco, opened the first international Sweco Climate Lecture. Martijn led by explaining Sweco’s thought leading position and capability to make a difference. He explained the necessity for clearer insight into the facts and data behind climate change and described Sweco’s six reports to be published this year under the theme of ‘climate action’. The reports will include the effects of heat stress and urban densification on the resiliency of cities.
During this first international Urban Insight Climate Lecture, Arnoud Molenaar, Chief Resilience Officer for Rotterdam, was invited by Sweco to take us with him into the world of climate action.
Building Climate Resilient Cities
All over Europe cities are becoming more populated and vulnerable to climate risks, such as floods, heat waves, droughts and rising sea-levels. The city of Rotterdam has been working on transitioning to a climate resilient city for over 10 years this is largely as a result of the rising costs of inaction. The strategy is to incorporate resilience within all spatial planning activities. This means that all new plans or measures must contribute to the social and/or physical quality of the city. In other words, measures need to be multi-functional and add quality.
In Rotterdam 60% of the space is owned by non-public institutions. This means that citizens, housing corporations and companies need to be incorporated in the resiliency strategies too.
An interesting example of such measures is Rotterdam’s water squares, which can be used as playgrounds or meeting places in normal conditions, and as water reservoirs during heavy rains. Another example is to use the energy transition in certain districts to stimulate employment. But, such measures in the public area are not enough. In Rotterdam 60% of the space is owned by non-public institutions. This means that citizens, housing corporations and companies need to be incorporated in the resiliency strategies too.
Tomorrows climate, data revolution and social challenges will require a change in mindset
Arnoud also noted additional considerations aside from climate change that need to urgently be considered when designing the cities of tomorrow. Digitalization, the energy transition and social problems, are all becoming more prominent as well. An IT system hack within the municipality can, for example, reduce their capacity to take measures in case of emergency. It is therefore important to focus on different types of resilience within cities: social, cyber, infrastructural resilience, and so on, while at the same time always having a plan B.
If you were unable to watch the Sweco climate lecture Climate Action in de Bilt or via the livestream, watch again here:
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Urban Insight College - Netherlands
Rolien De Jong
Country project leader - Netherlands
Project Manager Urban Insight
Emma Sterner Oderstedt
Expert Leader Climate Action