Design of a Climate Proof Netherlands

Climate changes and the consequences become more and more apparent (see also Chapter 1). Examples of these visible changes are changing in precipitation patterns, leading to water annoyance or droughts, and the changes in temperature, which affects the living conditions of heat-loving species positively. Once the future changes in climate are, within certain margins, known, this knowledge needs to be included in policies and in designs. The Dutch Adaptation Strategy and Agenda (Chapter 1) focuses on both policy and design. Spatial measures can be developed, which offer design oriented solutions, if anticipated on upcoming changes. In the Dutch House of Lords a motion was accepted, which asks attention for long-term planning in national policies (Eerste Kamer, 2005). The national policies in the Netherlands can be characterised as plans with a short time-horizon, in which climate change plays a minor role.

According the national policies, the majority of investments will be done in Randstad Holland. This area is for its largest part below sea level and therefore vulnerable for floods. A design approach would offer chances at solutions for the defined questions. If a design point of view is chosen, this implies look at the problems with a broad view, in which integrated and robust solutions can be found. This approach differs from the political and societal discourse: here the facts and the search for the 'truth' dominates. Dealing with uncertainties and surprises is not yet included in the discourse. Thus, politicians and scientists stick to climate scenarios of 2006 (KNMI, 2006). And the greater part of the research on climate change and spatial impacts is still directed by the urge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and not on possible creative and inspirational spatial solutions to deal with climate change. As a matter of fact this is a strange situation, because further research on facts and figures are in a way inflexible, while future uncertainties ask for flexibility, creativity and robustness of solutions. Research and development of good practices, which focus on the spatial implementation of changes caused by climate change, should become more dominant. This research needs to focus on three issues: the transformation of climate knowledge to spatial means i.e. maps or atlases, the development of design principles and the appliance of the principles in spatial planning and design. But first of all, an innovative and creative attitude needs to be developed.

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