The Dutch Adaptation Strategy

The Dutch national program 'Adaptation of the Spatial lay out and Climate' (ARK) is a cooperation between the central government, provinces, municipalities and water boards.1 Within this program a national adaptation strategy and - agenda is developed. The cooperation of all involved partners illustrates that adaptation is important in several policy-fields and on different levels of scale. This is the key factor in the national strategy: cooperation is essential to become successful.

The national program focuses on those measures that are necessary to adapt to climate change. Needless to state here that in both the policy document (VROM, 2007a) as well as in the political report (VROM, 2007b) on adaptation the necessity to mitigate climate change by reduction of the emissions of greenhouse gases is underpinned. However, some changes in the global climate are unavoidable and thus, the world needs to focus on adaptation also. The National Program on Spatial lay out and Climate offers the building stones in the form of a national adaptation strategy as well as an adaptation agenda.

The national adaptation strategy is essential, because:

• The room for solutions decreases:

• In the future the necessary measures will require more and more efforts;

1 Cooperating governemnts include four ministries (Housing, Spatial Affairs and Environment, Traffic and Water, Agriculture, Nature and Food, and Economic Affairs), the IPO (Interprovincial Board), the VNG (Unified Dutch Municipalities) and the UvW (Union of Waterboards).

• Cooperation between governments, enterprises and societal organisations needs to be encouraged in order to generate inter-sectoral and integral solutions;

• A safe and attractive environment needs to be created and guaranteed for an international business environment.

Not undertake any action is not an option. The climate proofing of the Netherlands is seen as the most important task of this century. It shall steer investment decisions and shall provide a balanced - social, economical and ecological - development of society.

1.2.2.1 Economic Driver

Adaptation to climate change is not only desired from a sustainable or environmental point of view. There are also economical motives to undertake action now. Keeping track of things is relatively simple in case nothing goes wrong, but under pressure it is needed to stay keep and behold the overview. In order to minimise economic, material and personal damage especially in a disaster situation the right measures must be taken.

If climate change is taken into account in current investment decisions future far more costly investments in inevitable adjustments can be avoided. If spatial investments in a certain area increase, the value in that area increases as well. The possible damage in that area in case of a disaster will increase in that situation. This is why specifically these areas with the highest economical value adapt to climate change. Here, the damage is highest in case of a disaster. To find out which areas are most vulnerable not only the economic values must be added, but the possibility of failure of one crucial function - in itself probably not extreme economical valuable - must also be included in the analysis, because failure might imply a domino of effects, which lead to even higher damage for other functions. For example, if the data centre of Google is flooded, the damage on the building and machines are nothing compared with the worldwide damage as a result of failing networks, safety systems etcetera. The safety-level of the data-centre needs to be very high, while the added economic values in the area could be satisfied with a more moderate level of protection.

If functions are intensified, the physical space for adaptation decreases. Therefore, the room for adjustments needs to be created and reserved now. Taking action now, it is still possible to keep up with spatial development projects. Waiting for several years leads to decreased space for adaptation measures and increased difficulties to adapt to climate change.

1.2.2.2 Three Demands for a Climate Proof Lay Out

The Dutch adaptation strategy states that a climate proof spatial lay out requires a high resistance, resilience and adaptability.

Resistance is the ability to resist extreme circumstances. A change in attitude is not necessary. If the dikes are maintained well, the resistance of an area stays intact.

Resilience is the quality to recover from an event fast when circumstances return normal again. The area changes temporarily and after a - as short as possible -period everything functions as normal again.

Adaptability is the capability to deal with the uncertainties, both in size as pace, of climate change. As time goes by the problems of climate change increase and the adaptation requires more intense efforts. Therefore, the capability of the society to realise adaptation measures needs to increase as well. This is only possible if the realisation of the adaptation measures will be easier in increasing difficult circumstances.

If areas are developed, realised and maintained these three elements need to be kept in mind consequently and explicitly.

1.2.2.3 Risk Management and Natural Processes

According the Dutch national adaptation strategy two principles are leading in dealing with a changing climate: risk management and natural processes. Because of the uncertainties of future circumstances in the Netherlands, risk management focuses on both the possibilities to prevent a disaster (Fig. 1.6) as well as reducing the damage and casualties in case a disaster happens. The right spatial choices can make the difference here. For example, the creation of compartments in the defence against flooding reduces the chance on damage and casualties. And vital and vulnerable functions should be placed at locations, where the chance on a disaster is minimal or at locations, which are safe, even if a dike breaks through (VROM, 2007b).

Fig. 1.6 Increasing chance on flooding (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.6 Increasing chance on flooding (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

The use of natural processes increases the resilience and adaptability of an area. For example, if a river is able to flow in a natural way, it is better equipped to deal with extreme circumstances. If new urban areas are planned the natural system, like the soil, the relief and the water system, needs to play a decisive role in decisions on size and nature of new building areas.

1.2.2.4 Spatial Tasks

The Dutch adaptation strategy focuses on a number of spatial tasks. On the one hand side the tasks, which prevent society from collapsing and on the other hand tasks, which minimise undesirable effects.

Prevention of Societal Collapse

A sustainable coastal defence (Fig. 1.7) should be realised, where space can be created for nature, recreation and urban functions. Extension of the coast is one of the options.

The river system needs to be robust also. Enough storage- and discharge capacity should be created within the riverbed (Fig. 1.8). Beside this, the river system needs to prevent navigation passage problems from happening during long dry periods (Fig. 1.9). On top of that, the natural dynamic of the river system should be taken into account (Fig. 1.10).

Future lay out of cities and the countryside should be robust. Vital functions should be protected by creating compartments and by creating safe spots in the landscape. Large concentrations of people should be protected against disasters through safeguarding the functioning of main-ports and energy and transport networks, even in the most difficult circumstances. Beside that quick assistance must be guaranteed.

Fig. 1.7 Strategy to deal with floods (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.8 Strategy to deal with drainage peaks in the river (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.8 Strategy to deal with drainage peaks in the river (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.9 Water shortages in summer (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Minimising Undesirable Effects

The lay out of a sustainable water system is very important. It should be capable to deal with extreme differences in precipitation and droughts, it should secure a good ecological water quality and it should supply the drinking water resources. Besides a sustainable water system, a robust ecological main structure is very important. This structure needs to be extensive in size, but requires also good connections in order to optimise migration of (new) species. Moreover, a living environment of good quality needs to be realised in cities. The environment needs to moderate the heat island effect when temperatures are high (Fig. 1.11) and deal with water surpluses if precipitation is extreme (Fig. 1.12).

Fig. 1.10 Increasing the flexibility of the river system. 'Space for the river' (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.11 Heat island effect in the city (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.11 Heat island effect in the city (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Buildings and neighbourhoods should be designed in a climate proof way (Figs. 1.13 and 1.14). These neighbourhoods and buildings need to be able to withstand floods and inundations, but evacuation routes and evacuation plans should be incorporated in the design. Finally, the structures need to be designed in a way that recovering after a disaster is easy.

The lay out of urban green and ecological structures must be designed in a climate proof way (Fig. 1.15), which means that enough space is reserved for green, good connections between different green spaces and coherence between the green and water systems.

There are changes to develop the recreational infrastructure, because of rising temperatures. In order to develop these infrastructures it needs to be based on future changes (Fig. 1.16).

Fig. 1.12 Water annoyance in urban areas (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.12 Water annoyance in urban areas (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.13 Adjustments in buildings (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)
Fig. 1.14 Climate proof lay out of urban areas (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.15 Changing nature and recreation (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a; Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.15 Changing nature and recreation (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a; Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.16 Increasing 2007a, Illustration by:

chances for tourism and recreation (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al. Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Agriculture needs to become climate proof as well (Fig. 1.17). Agriculture needs to adapt to weather extremes, become resistant against plagues and needs to deal with salination.

Health risks (Fig. 1.18), which occur with a changing climate, need to be minimised and treated well.

Utilise Market Chances

If the tasks are approached in a design-oriented way, not only the possible threats are treated, but it offers market chances and chances to improve the spatial quality in the Netherlands also. The national ecological aims can be reached, the country can be made more attractive and the national economical development can be stimulated if can be anticipated on future developments and if combinations of different functions can be made. In concrete, the delivery of green-blue services in the agricultural and tourist sector, thanks to a longer growing season is an example of this. Above that, knowledge, which is developed in water-related innovations, can be exported worldwide. The Netherlands stays, as a result of a climate proof lay out, internationally an attractive business place and the extensions of international nature reserves and ecological connections contribute to an attractive and valuable landscape.

Fig. 1.17 New chances for agriculture (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

Fig. 1.18 Health risks (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2007a, Illustration by: Beeldleveranciers Amsterdam)

1.2.2.5 Important Issues

The national strategy addresses strategic and important issues, which require a supra-sectoral and quick decision.

1. How to make it possible that the big rivers flow freely into the see, on the very long-term also?

2. What means climate proof planning and building? Which risks are acceptable? How should flood risk be minimised? Is it necessary to reconsider the existing building plans? Should vulnerable and less vulnerable areas be protected at different safety levels?

3. How can the Netherlands stay safe? How can the country be protected against the sea? By creating compartments, by heightening the dikes or by the introduction of an offensive and flexible coastal defence?

4. What is the role of climate scenarios in formal planning procedures?

5. Is Natura 2000 defined broadly enough to deal with the increasing dynamics resulting from climate change?

6. How can be dealt with increasing salination? Should fresh water be used to minimise the effects or should new crops be introduced?

7. How can space be reserved, which is required over a period of 20, 40 or even 100 years?

8. How can space be created inside dense cities for water and green space, while the pressure increases on the city to use free space in order to keep vulnerable area outside the city free of developments?

9. How can finance be arranged for measures, which benefits and debts are spread out over time and have different results for many involved partners?

1.2.2.6 Ambition of the Dutch Strategy

The Dutch strategy focuses on making many parties responsible by increasing consciousness and preparedness for action within businesses, societal organisations and the scientific world. Spatial plans will be tested on the level of climate proofing by defining a checking framework. Innovation and knowledge development will be stimulated in cooperation with business partners. A future oriented government will be developed, which takes the long-term into account while making decisions for the short term.

The central government shall, in cooperation with other partners, develop a communication strategy and reconsider large-scale investments and spatial development projects. An area-oriented and integrated approach will be stimulated and the realisation of projects, which add to the climate proof level of an area, shall take place mainly on a regional level. At this level knowledge and experience of several partners is connected best and the effectiveness is highest.

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