Rotterdam - Rotterdam Adaptation Strategy


The main climate threats that the RAS aims to overcome are: 

  • Floods, caused by sea level rise in combination with increased river water levels. Rotterdam must comply with standards set by the national government. 
  • Extreme precipitation can cause incidents such as sewerage overflows, flooded streets, basements and tunnels. To prevent this, the city needs strong urban water management.
  • A direct result of droughts is the reduction of groundwater levels, possibly leading to increased downgrading of the wooden driven piles that support many houses. Longer periods of drought may also lead to subsidence of certain urban areas and weakening of the dikes that protect the city. In addition, lower river levels affect the distribution over water of goods that enter the Rotterdam port. Moreover,  in times of drought, the tidal movement shifts the sea water further inland into the delta; advancing salt water intrusion which in turn lowers the quality of the urban water system.
  • Some city areas can be about 8°C warmer than others, due to the urban heat island effect. The heat wave of 2007 led to a significant increase in mortality among vulnerable groups. Moreover, during heat waves, Rotterdam needs to cool its bridges, since bridges that have expanded too much, will no longer be able to open and close


The RAS is an integral strategy for the entire city, securing safety and liveability for more than 600,000 citizens.  The overarching goals of the RAS are to protect the city and its inhabitants from the rivers and sea, and from both too much and too little precipitation. The RAS aims to increase awareness of the effects of climate change and of what citizens can do themselves. Finally, the goal is to use climate change adaptation to contribute to a comfortable, pleasant and attractive city in which to live and work.

The city has installed 219,000 m2 of green roofs, reducing CO2 emissions and resulting in a lower burden on the sewerage system and cooler buildings during heat waves. The green roofs also buffer about 3,300 m3 of rainwater. Other projects include the Benthemplein water square, retaining 1800 m3 of rainwater, and water storage infrastructure in different parking garages, for example the 'Kruisplein' garage, retaining 2400 m3 of rainwater, and the garage Museumpark, which stores 10,000 m3. Finally, the blue corridor is a recreational, navigable route that provides clean water to the area, acts as a water storage facility and forms an ecological link between the various nature areas.

Projected Outcomes

By linking adaptation measures to current projects, economic advantages can be achieved in the long term, for example by making an area more attractive for companies to establish, or more attractive for recreational activities. These adaptation measures are also designed in an aesthetically attractive way, thus further improving the living environment. For example, a water square was built that also serves as a playground, and it has acted as a catalyst for community engagement.

 A new Rotterdam Sustainability Programme 2014-2018 has been formally approved. It includes goals to increase energy efficiency and the production of clean energy, improve air quality, prepare for the consequences of climate change, and turn Rotterdam into a hub for circular economy.