In association with Rijkswaterstaat and the World Wide Fund for Nature, and in the context of the 'LIFE' subsidy programme, Rotterdam received a European subsidy for the demonstration of innovative and sustainable projects that strive to combat climate change. The project is called 'Urban Adapt', because several locations have been selected in the city where we are going to experiment with climate adaptation. These locations are the Zomerhofkwartier along with the adjacent Agniesebuurt, and the Nieuwe Maas. Rotterdam is a frontrunner in the field of climate adaptation and in 2001 became the first major European city to adopt an EU-approved climate strategy. The development of this strategy is already visible at multiple, small-scale public locations, such as the water squares. However, large-scale projects are also needed to make a real difference in the climate process. Of course, the City of Rotterdam is not doing this alone but is working with public and private parties and residents.

These are the challenges LIFE Urban Adapt is tackling:

  1. The increased risk of flooding due to more intensive rainfall and rising sea levels
  2. Higher temperatures caused by the 'urban heat island' effect (UHI), the phenomenon whereby the temperature in our urban area is higher on average than in the surrounding rural area. The principal causes of UHI are the absorption of sunlight by dark materials and relatively low wind speeds in the city. Problems during heatwaves, such as heat stress are exacerbated by UHI, which can be reduced by construction measures and increasing the green areas in the city.
  3. Damage to flora and fauna on land and in water.


The effects of climate change are visible in the city. Large puddles of rainwater do not drain away in the streets and gardens and cellars are flooded. In some houses the dirty water comes back up the drain.

In the Zomerhof (ZoHo) district and the adjacent Agniesebuurt, LIFE Urban Adapt is focusing on more greenery, water collection and water infiltration. We want to retain rainwater for longer and allow it to gradually drain in order to prevent the sewer flooding. Retaining the rainwater in tiles and barrels allows us to excess the water to be used at a later date for example to spray green areas.

Residents of Agniesebuurt, together with Havensteder housing cooperative, the Municipality of Rotterdam and the water board of Schiedam and Krimpenerwaard (HHSK) have discussed a plan for the outdoor space in the Agniesebuurt. This is a joint endeavour, which means the plans take everyone's interests into account.


In the Rotterdam region just 30 percent of riverbanks provide space for nature. The remainder, almost 250 kilometres of inner city riverbanks, consists of stone and urban development. Our aim is to partially replace these concrete river boundaries with 'soft' riverbanks that benefit flora and fauna.

In the Nieuwe Maas, several tidal parks are being created that will help improve local ecosystems and biodiversity. In Nassauhaven, surveys of the existing flora and fauna have been completed and the first preparations are underway for the green riverbanks.


Our climate is changing. As a world port in the Dutch delta, Rotterdam will notice the effects. Sea levels are rising, which has consequences over time for the safety of our dikes. River discharges will become more extreme, which increases the risk of flooding and also the chance of victims and damage, economic or otherwise. There will be more frequent and more intense rainstorms that the current sewer system can no longer handle, resulting in water flooding the streets, and other nuisances. Simultaneously, the risk of long periods of drought and heat will increase, which could impact the liveability of the city. In 2001, Rotterdam launched the first Water Plan to respond to the effects of climate change. As of 2013, Rotterdam's Adaptation Strategy (RAS) sets the course along which we are adapting to climate changes. Implementation of the measures in the city is advancing at a steady pace, but climate adaptation must be integrated on a large scale in order to make significant leaps forward. This not only requires efforts by the Municipality, but also by residents, businesses and other social organisations.


To protect the European economy and society from the negative effects of climate change, the EU is looking for sustainable solutions that could contribute to this goal. Therefore, the importance of urban adaptation strategies is also high on the European policy agenda. Rotterdam is known as a frontrunner in the field of climate adaptation and was the first major European city to adopt an established adaptation strategy. This complex process demands good cooperation with all the relevant stakeholders, in which mutual interests are sought and found in order to jointly implement effective climate adaptation measures. LIFE Urban Adapt strives to demonstrate the potential offered by this participative approach for implementing urban climate adaptation strategies and measures. Click here for more information about the European LIFE programme.



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Naar Archief


  • WWF
  • Ministerie van Infrastructuur
  • Gemeente Rotterdam
  • Provincie Zuid-Holland



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