City of Zwolle has developed its own adaptation strategy

Climate change is going to affect everyone. Especially in the delta city of Zwolle, where water is coming from five directions: from the air, via the soil, via the rivers Rhine and IJssel, from Lake IJsselmeer, and via the river Vecht and the Salland water courses. As a result of the increasingly extreme weather conditions, the city centre may be faced with urban flooding. In order to be a climate-resilient, green, liveable city by 2050, Zwolle has developed its own adaptation strategy: the Zwolle Adaptation Strategy. With this strategy and the solution strategies it sets out, Zwolle aims to provide its residents and businesses with the prospect of a resilient and adaptive city.

Zwolse Adaptatiestrategie

What does the adaptation strategy set out?

The Zwolle Adaptation Strategy identifies the taskings with which the municipality of Zwolle is faced. The city has devised solution strategies for climate-resilient development, risk and damage containment, and for enhancing the value of the living environment. One of the steps that Zwolle aims to take in the purview of improving its climate resilience is the construction of a large, coherent green-blue network. Another step involves increasing the city’s sponge effect. This can be achieved via various measures, such as green roofs, rain barrels, rain gardens, and rainproof streets. The sponge effect will reduce damage caused by severe downpours and boost the water retention capacity during periods of drought.

How is the strategy structured?

The Zwolle Adaptation Strategy covers three levels:

  1. The regional water system: Water-resilient Zwolle. Responsibility for this level is borne by the central government, the province, the district water board, and the municipality;
  2. The urban level: Green-Blue Grid. Joint responsibility for the construction of this grid is borne by the municipality and the district water board.
  3. Neighbourhood/district level: collectively working on the sponge effect. Residents and businesses will help the municipality to expand Zwolle’s sponge effect.

The strategy is built on these building blocks:

  1. Spatial adaptations at the urban level: which spatial adaptations are needed where?
  2. Regional water system: exploration of and collaboration with regional governments on required adaptations;
  3. Internal organisation: how will climate-adaptive become the “new standard” for the municipal organisation?
  4. The city: how do we win over the residents of Zwolle and how do we provide them with action perspectives to enhance the climate resilience and appeal of their own living and working environment by 2050?
  5. Regulations: what regulations do we need in order to enforce measures wherever required?
  6. Funding: spatial adaptation costs money; how will we fund this?
  7. Capitalising on opportunities: how do we ensure that we make the most of opportunities that open up during the spatial adaptation of the city?
  8. Navigation and monitoring: how do we stay on course towards the ultimate goal?

These building blocks have been appended separately to the main report.

What are the next steps?

The intention is to have a programme plan and an implementation plan by the end of 2019. Zwolle will be monitoring the plans as follows:

  1. The city is collaborating with partners on a monitoring tool, within the framework of a CATCH project;
  2. The city will make a project map displaying all the climate adaptation measures;
  3. The city will report to the municipal council once a year.

Lessons to be learned

  • The municipality must tackle these issues together with its partners and residents.
  • The municipality must tie in with the perception and movement of residents and businesses.
  • Directing and trying to convince does not work.

Contact person

Geert Janssen
Gemeente Zwolle
038 – 498 2092

Project type
Adaptation plan/strategy
Gemeente Zwolle
Drought, Heat, Urban flooding, Waterlogging