Newsletter No 3 Oktober 2011

Climate research contributes to climate proofing

Florrie de Pater

Climate changes Spatial Planning, a research programme that closes its doors the end of this year. The programme ran for seven years and about 90 million euro was spent. Good questions to ask: What were the results? What did the research deliver? Does climate change influences spatial planning in the Netherlands by now?

spaceThe programme was initiated in 2002 by the VU University and the Wageningen University (WUR). Soon many parties hooked on and not only universities. Just to name a few: water boards, provinces, an insurance company, a municipality and consultancy firms. The programme started in 2004 with about 40 projects, it ended with 75. At least 30 of them were oriented towards communication, education or the development of policy instruments; for a research programme a lot. Reason for this was the ambition to include the climate proofing concept in the practice of spatial planning in the Netherlands.

All 40 research projects finished successfully. Many scientific papers were produced, about 40 AIO’s finished their dissertations or are in the process of doing so. Quite a few of them from IVM. The Climate Scenario projects contributed to a better understanding of the climate system and laid the basis for further regionalization of climate scenario’s. The mitigation projects mainly focused on quantification of greenhouse gas emissions. Internationally this research was top of the bill. Many research on adaptation was initiated, among others the insurance project, ACER and AVV of the Space department. The results of the adaptation research have been actively conveyed to practitioners and is often used now. The climate effect atlas was very useful in transferring this knowledge. Projects on framing, economics of climate adaptation, governance, participation and socio-economic scenario’s were executed by IVM researchers.

Successful projects, most of them, but without active communication to and participation of stakeholders one of the objectives of the programme never could have been realized: including the concept of climate proofing in spatial planning practice. Many of the research projects involved stakeholders, but the communication projects were essential in engraving the message. They helped getting governments and businesses on board. We did that in the beginning by raising societal consciousness and by increasing the relevance of the programme for potential stakeholders by starting projects that had direct meaning to them.

One of the first communication projects was the Nature Calender, organized by the WUR. Nowadays 7000 volunteers monitor phenological observations in their garden. These data are used to analyse the influence of climate change on flora and fauna. Also the occurrence of ticks and pollen are monitored.  Radio, television, papers and magazines worked closely together with the Nature Calender to inform the public about the changes. This has contributed immensely to climate change awareness of the public and policy makers.

KNMI organized the tailoring project, that provided tailor made climate scenarios for various stakeholders. The project changed the attitude of the KNMI towards a more outward looking and service oriented organization. And it helped policy makers understand how the climate changes.

Another  communication project, run from IVM was the Network and Dialogue project. It started in 2005 with a campaign to raise awareness of climate change and the influence on spatial planning, specially among provinces. In every province a climate road show was organized with film, presentations and a climate quiz. A policy paper was prepared and adopted in 2006 by many of the provinces. The project also organized successful conferences (climax was Deltas in Times of Climate Change in 2010 with 1200 participants), workshops and specials in professional magazines, and it initiated seven so called hotspot projects; projects in which researchers and practitioners worked closely together analyzing the influence of climate change on a certain area and designing policy options. All projects on climate change in the city were also initiated by the Network project.


If one compares 2011 with 2004 when the project started, the terrain of climate adaptation has completely changed. In 2004 there was almost nobody among policy makers who heard  of the term adaptation. The urban heat island effect was completely unknown. In the water department people used the ‘Tielrooy’  (WB-21)  scenario’s. In 2006/2007 provinces began to use the term adaptation. Provinces started making climate proof structure plans. Later, in 2008, some of the municipalities followed. More and more the KNMI 2006 scenario’s are used to plan for the future. So we can say that climate became an issue within many governmental institutions, although for some it is still a very difficult issue due to the uncertainties that play a role. Climate change didn’t change the system and procedures of spatial planning, but it is becoming one of the subjects to take into account. And, in all fairness it must be admitted that the research programme contributed significantly to that success.

Climate Changes Spatial Planning will mark the end of the programme and celebrate its successes on the 1-st of December in an old industrial complex in Amersfoort, the ‘Rijtuigenloods’. The programma offers interesting presentations by Myles Allen (Oxford), Joop Atsma (secretary of State) and Alexandra van Huffelen (Rotterdam), a panel discussion  with climate innovators and many workshops. As from 17.15 there will be a party with the Biggles Big band.  Did you work within one of the CcSP projects and want to meet your co-researchers for the last time in this setting? Or just curious to know some of the results of the programme? Then come to Amersfoort on 1 December.

contact: Florrie de Pater