Securing and maintaining a robust city by incorporating adaptation measures in urban development, Rotterdam is achieving climate resilience while improving living conditions.

With 55% percent of the country vulnerable to floods, the Netherlands is particularly exposed to rising sea levels. Acknowledging this, Rotterdam developed the Rotterdam Adaptation Strategy (RAS), which addresses the need for adaptation planning in all city projects. RAS is an integral strategy for the entire city, securing safety and livability for more than 600,000 citizens.

17.5 million cubic meters of rainwater secured and retained from RAS actions

Cities100 – 2015

The city has built 219,000 m2 of green roofs which, besides being comfortable spaces for recreational activities, absorb at least 82,000 kg of CO2 and can retain 15 liters of water per square meter in case of heavy rainfall. Car parks double as water catchment basins, able to store 10 million liters of water. Similarly, the Benthemplein Water Square doubles as a playground and is able to retain 1.8 million liters of water. These and other RAS adaptations reduce the burden on sewer systems and the risk of flooding in the city, while providing citizens with new spaces for leisure time, which improve aesthetics and quality of life in the city.

The challenge

Facing floods caused by sea level rise and extreme precipitation, Rotterdam needed resilient solutions to combat the consequences of climate change. The city has found solutions integrated in the city’s urban development to increase climate resilience, while also increasing the value of the city’s living environment.


Economic Businesses benefit from the increasing interest in climate change adaptation solutions, which, at present, account for 3,600 jobs in the region.

Environmental The urban heat island effect is reduced in areas where the city experiences increased temperatures of up to 8°C.

Social The Benthemplein Water Square has acted as a catalyst for community engagement and increased recreational activities, making it an integral part of the area’s contribution to the living environment.

About Rotterdam

Rotterdam is a city in the Netherlands. Its history goes back to 1270 when a dam was constructed in the Rotte river by people settled around it for safety. A major logistic and economic centre, Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port and has a population of 633,471 (2017), the second-largest in the Netherlands, just behind Amsterdam. The near-complete destruction of the city centre in the World War II Rotterdam Blitz has resulted in a varied architectural landscape, including sky-scrapers, an uncommon sight in other Dutch cities.

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