Adaptation to climate change-related risks in Dutch urban areas: stimuli and barriers (Englisch)

In: Regional Environmental Change   ;  12 ,  4  ;  777-790  ;  2012

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Abstract Climate change is associated with various risks, such as flooding and heat stress. So far, most research has concentrated on the identification and quantification of these risks as well as the development of adaptation measures. Yet much less is known about how planners actually perceive and deal with climate change, and why. This paper focuses on the governance of two climate change-related risks in urban areas in the Netherlands, namely heat stress and flooding from rainfall and rivers. Heat stress hardly seems to be perceived as an urgent problem, mainly because there is no clear ‘problem owner’. Because municipalities are responsible for rain and sewage water management and partly for river flooding, increased flood risk is more often recognised as a (potential) problem. Despite the rather low sense of urgency regarding these two climate change-induced risks, urban planners are, or envisage, investing in more open water and public green areas. Heat stress and flood risks from rainfall are not the reasons per se, but primarily act as additional arguments to legitimise these measures, which should contribute to sustainable urban development in general. Our analysis suggests a gap between the perceived urgency of proactive adaptation to climate change by scientists and the perceptions of planners. Climate science research could enhance its contribution to urban planning by providing conceivable projections of climate change impacts as well as by developing adaptation measures that serve multiple purposes and strategies to successfully implement these.

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