Rotterdam is locatedin the wester part of the Netherlands in the province of Zuid-Holland. Most of the country’s surface is flat and cultivated, and present-day sedimentation and erosion are almost everywhere influenced by man: rivers are contained by dikes and  many streams are canalized; swamps, lakes and large parts of an inland sea have been turned into polders; and in many places dikes strengthen the coastline. Without dikes nearly the whole western part of the country would be flooded. To keep the reclaimed polder areas dry and fit for farming, pumping stations – formerly windmills –extract water continuously for transfer into bordering water bodies.

Read more about Rotterdam City in case study report  TU1206-WG1-013

Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and the second largest port in the world. Starting as a dam constructed in 1270 on the Rotte River, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre. Its strategic location at the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta on the North Sea and at the heart of a massive rail, road, air and inland waterway distribution system extending throughout Europe is the reason that Rotterdam is often called the "Gateway to Europe".

 After the successful period of post-world war II reconstruction Rotterdam continued enhancing its status as an international city. Its centre witnessed the appearance of the Erasmus Bridge and the Kop van Zuid, a former harbour area redeveloped into a residential area. Since then, the city has been boasting a skyline unique in the Netherlands. On the edges of the city large residential districts have been built. New entertainment venues, restaurants and festivals have turned Rotterdam into a place with a young, trendsetting image.

To keep playing a significant role in the international competition amongst urban regions, Rotterdam will have to employ a strategy that not only aims at the development of the knowledge and services economy but can also guarantee an appealing residential and social climate capable of attracting more graduates and creative workers.

The mission of the city council is formulated in the spatial development strategy 2030 and focusses on the following elements:

  • Strong economy: Creating a strong economy concentrates on the transition from an industrial economy to a knowledge and services economy, based on the further development of the medical and creative sectors. In the port area. Besides the recently conluded construction of Maasvlakte 2, a large new port area, the emphasis will be on innovation in the fields of energy consumption and energy production as well as on the reduction of the emission of carbon dioxide.
  • Attractive residential city with a balanced composition of the population: Good housing alone is not enough for an attractive residential city. High-standard public space is an important condition for creating attractive and popular residential environments,

 The Rotterdam ClimateChange Adaptation Strategy has been developed with the aim of making Rotterdam climate  proof by 2025. By climate proof we mean:

  • by 2025 measures will have already been taken to ensure that every specific region  is minimally disrupted by and maximally benefits from climate change both then and throughout the following decades
  • structurally taking into account the long-term foreseeable climate change in all spatial development of Rotterdam, while allowing for any associated uncertainties

 In concrete terms, this means, amongst other measures:

  • Linking the strengthening of the flood defences to the urban specifications at the relevant locations. Dike reinforcements are seamlessly incorporated in the city and are multifunctional, serving, as recreational trails, natural embankments or are combined with area development. In the outer-dike areas, to seek clever combinations of protection (dikes), spatial planning (e.g. elevating some sections, floating buildings) and damage control (such as evacuation routes, water-resistant design of homes and external spaces, etc.).
  • The ‘sponge function’ of the city is restored with measures which keep rainwater where it falls, store it and drain it away slowly. These include water squares which relieve the sewage system, infiltration zones along infrastructure and the integration of trees and greenery in outdoor areas (both public and private), which benefits the city environment. By frequently applying these small-scale measures to the ‘capillaries of the city’, we are able to reduce Rotterdam’s vulnerability and at the same time  to add quality to the environment. This could include, for example, an underground water storage facility linked to car parks or blue-green networks in the city. 
  • Actively encourage heat resistance as part of the design, renovation and maintenance of buildings, outdoor spaces and the road and public utility infrastructure. This could be achieved by, for example, incorporating trees and greenery and creating shade and adequate insulation in homes and offices
  • Maintaining the current robust system, such as dikes, canals  and drains is and will remain the duty and responsibility of the government and local authorities (like the water boards). But climate change adaptation in the city requires more than this. The maintenance of many vital public utilities is in the hands of our urban partners. It is therefore essential that energy, the supply of (drinking) water and ICT networks do not break down for long periods of time and it is imperative that these remain robust in extreme weather conditions. Most of the buildings and land are private property. Implementing adaptation measures in both the public and private urban spaces therefore also requires cooperation with other parties. 
  • Climate change adaptation offers ample opportunities to strengthen the economy of the city and the port, to improve the quality of life in neighbourhoods and districts, to increase biodiversity in the city and to foster committed and active participation by Rotterdam residents in society. Working together for a climate proof city pays off!. Introducing more trees and plants into the city, for example, makes it less vulnerable to extreme rainfall, drought and heat stress. At the same time, this ‘green adaptation’ will make the living environment more attractive, become the motor for other investments and inspire the residents of Rotterdam to play an active role.