Design Adaptation to Climate Change

Abstract The adaptation to climate change is well represented in strategies, policies and the media. It can even be found in sectoral measures, but integrated designs for adapted spatial plans are hardly available. This is curious, because adaptation to climate change needs to be implemented and realised mainly through spatial patterns and lay out. Several reasons may cause this. It may be plausible that the subject is just recently put on the political agenda, which makes it just a matter of time before spatial adaptation plans will be designed. Another reason may be that people, experts and politicians, think that adaptation measures are expensive and difficult to implement. The power to change the course of existing policies is not strong enough yet. But if it can be made clear that adaptation planning requires only slight adjustments to the existing planning practice and budgets, adaptation designs will be carried out. The involved planners have difficulties to transfer incomplete knowledge or uncertainty about climate change to politicians and planners simply do not

Reviewed by Dr. Markus Fleishhauer, University of Dortmund, Faculty of Spatial Planning, Germany and Prof. Dr. Jusuck Koh, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Chair Landscape Architecture, the Netherlands

R. Roggema, Adaptation to Climate Change: A Spatial Challenge, 59

DOI 10.1007/978-1-4020-9359-3_2, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

have sufficient time/capacity to take care of the new challenge of climate change. The last reason for the absence of adaptive plans may be a shortage in knowledge. It may well be that many initiatives for adaptive planning are taken, but that it is just not known what the best adaptation strategies include. The development of climate atlases for certain areas may help to fill up this gap in knowledge. Based on the information in the atlases spatial strategies for regions may be designed.

Beside the knowledge gap there is a cultural phenomenon, which stimulates not to include innovations in existing practices (Ponting, 1992). Act the way was it was usual in existing practices is far easier than try to change the paradigm and implement innovative strategies. Design plays a central role in shifting the minds. The design makes visible what a future world may look like and how society will function under new conditions. The designs show the chances and challenges, coming along with climate change. And if the natural system of altitudes, water and ecology is understood the designs give shape to and offer answers for the question how can be dealt with unpredictable futures and climate change. The Chinese examples in this chapter illustrate that the spatial developments within large urban plans can improve resiliency if the natural system is taken as the base for the designs.

The design approach in the Groningen case proves that integration of adaptation in spatial planning is possible, easy and offers new ideas and combinations of functions.

The design is often an underestimated tool to give form spatially to a changing climate. The design is capable to make abstract numbers and unimaginable sentences visible in what climate change implies for inhabitants and visitors. Beside this function designs are also capable of formulating innovative answers to complex problems, which are regularly answered in a sector oriented way. Thus, they are the messengers as well as the inventors of an integral climate proof future. There is only one, very important, limitation and that is the difficulty to change existing land uses in regions.

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