Increasing the Adaptive Capacity in Unembanked Neighborhoods? An Exploration into Stakeholder Support for Adaptive Measures in Rotterdam, The Netherlands


Cities in deltas are vulnerable to climate change, especially their unembanked neighborhoods that are not protected by dikes. Rising sea levels and extreme water levels in the rivers can lead to the flooding of these urban areas. The Netherlands has a long history in water management. However, building dikes and the elevation of land are traditionally treated as rather stand-alone measures. Attention is rarely paid to the surrounding area, let alone to the complex context of cities and certainly not to disadvantaged neighborhoods. Yet, inner-city area redevelopment may provide opportunities to integrate flood management in these planning processes. In order to investigate the support of stakeholders for risk-reducing adaptive measures and more resilient measures, we did research in an unembanked inner-city area in the city of Rotterdam (The Netherlands), in which we conducted in-depth interviews with the central stakeholders. The main conclusion is that the most important barriers for integrating climate adaptation measures into that neighborhood are the fragmentation of water-safety policy (e.g. elevation of rebuilding locations) and the hierarchical governance arrangement in water management. This type of fragmentation led on its turn to fragmentation with other policy goals for the neighborhood. It also led to fragmentation between different areas in the same neighborhood that received political attention and those that are excluded from water-safety policy. This questions the approach in terms of social justice. An important side effect is that this governance arrangement also restricted innovation towards climate adaptation. Therefore, integrating water-safety policies in urban planning (in its capacity as a more integrative and comprehensive spatial approach) should be considered the best option to increase the adaptive capacity in delta cities. Not only can the negative effects in terms of policy fragmentation be dealt with effectively, but also spatial fragmentation can be tackled.

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A. Kokx and T. Spit, "Increasing the Adaptive Capacity in Unembanked Neighborhoods? An Exploration into Stakeholder Support for Adaptive Measures in Rotterdam, The Netherlands," American Journal of Climate Change, Vol. 1 No. 4, 2012, pp. 181-193. doi: 10.4236/ajcc.2012.14015.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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