Province of Utrecht has embarked on regional stress test and the risk dialogue

The climate adaptation working regions Coalitie Ruimtelijke Adaptatie Utrecht (CRA) and Platform Water Vallei en Eem (PWVE) of the province of Utrecht have joined forces with the province. The province is not just participating in these working regions, it is also facilitating the exchange of knowledge between the working regions. In addition, the collaboration with and between the working regions is aimed at identifying shared taskings, setting down regional spearheads, and conducting the risk dialogue. To this end, the stress tests are being linked to sectors.

Stress tests in the province of Utrecht

Within the province of Utrecht, several adaptation working regions are active. The CRA and PWVE working regions cover the main part of the province. In these regions, the province, municipalities, and regional water authorities have joined forces. Both regions have conducted a stress test for their own territory.


Image: Participants in the regional stress test conducted by the Utrecht Spatial Adaptation Coalition.

This approach – which is uniform throughout the working region – generates a clear picture of the regional vulnerabilities. The national climate impact atlas constituted the main data source with respect to the issues of drought, urban flooding, and heat. Waterlogging issues were modelled in Tygron.

This approach – which is uniform throughout the working region – generates a clear picture of the regional vulnerabilities. The national climate impact atlas constituted the main data source with respect to the issues of drought, urban flooding, and heat. Waterlogging issues were modelled in Tygron.

plaatje stresstesten

Image: Waterlogging maps from the CRA working region stress test (left) and the PWVE stress test (right).

The province of Utrecht has launched a provincial stress test procedure to map out the regional taskings. To this end, several workshops are being organised in collaboration with the working regions. In addition to participating in these workshops, the province is organising the exchange of knowledge among the regions. The provincial authorities thus aim to raise awareness and a sense of urgency, and to develop a collective perspective with respect to the regional adaptation taskings. The parties are thus substantiating the regional risk dialogues.

Towards a provincial stress test and a risk dialogue

Utrecht is a province featuring a widely diverse landscape: comprising peat, clay and sandy soil, and a mixture of urban, rural, and natural environments. This diversity calls for different solution strategies in the adaptation of the province. In order to gain a perception of the strategies required, during the workshops the stress test results relating to waterlogging, heat, drought, and urban flooding were linked to the regional sectors:

  • Agriculture and Nature;
  • Infrastructure and Vital Objects;
  • Landscape and Recreation;
  • Urbanisation and Healthy Living Environment.

In 2018, two separate workshops were held with the working regions. The workshop held in the summer, involving the CRA working region, provided input for the autumn workshop with the PWVE working region. Substantive and process-related expertise was thus exchanged. Several other workshops have been scheduled for 2019 in order to continue the risk dialogue.

Provincial spearheads

The province is going to bundle the results from the workshops in sector maps, to be made available in a GIS system. These maps provide insight into the vulnerabilities and opportunities of the sectors, for example, by indicating which farmlands are prone to waterlogging and which nature reserves are at risk of dehydration.

In addition, spearheads have been formulated during the workshops:

  • Availability of water of sufficient quality for nature, agriculture, and cities;
  • Development of climate-proof neighbourhoods;
  • Healthy and green compact cities;
  • Leisure activities in combination with water storage and green spaces;
  • Accessibility / security.

These spearheads serve as the points of departure for the regional implementation programmes and for the regional and local risk dialogues to be conducted with other parties. In addition, the spearheads are used as building blocks for the Environmental Visions.

With the workshops and the formulation of spearheads, the governments have initiated a risk dialogue. Increasingly more parties are joining in, such as the GGD health organisation, Vitens drinking water company, and several housing corporations.

Provincial portal for climate adaptation and the Environmental Vision

The province of Utrecht is working on a provincial climate portal to provide expertise and inspiration (to be launched in the spring of 2019). Maps and narratives will link the areas prone to drought, heat, waterlogging, and urban flooding to the impact on the various sectors. The portal will also serve as the point of departure for the Environmental Vision and thus constitute an inspiring basis for subsequent discussions.

Lessons to be learned from the project

  • Linkage with sectors.  Linking the outcomes of the basic stress test data regarding drought, heat, waterlogging, and urban flooding to sectors such as nature, agriculture, leisure activities, vulnerable objects, infrastructure, urban area, and healthy living environment will foster a concrete dialogue with partners from all the different disciplines within and beyond the individual organisations. This will generate new insights and action perspectives for all the disciplines.
  • Dialogue in the region. The governments in the region have been involved in the dialogue by utilising the existing organisational structures (climate adaptation working regions) and consultative bodies. This immediately garnered commitment among the parties. A consultancy has been engaged to properly prepare and supervise these dialogues. It is advisable to set up dialogues focused specifically on each sector and/or spearhead in order to foster in-depth discussions.
  • Task-oriented approach. A task-oriented approach is one of the points of departure in the working process: departing from what is required to become climate-proof and water-resilient. This involved looking beyond the organisational boundaries, on the basis of mutual interests and trust. The result is more “realisation power” to address the taskings.

Contact persons

Provincie Utrecht
Ida Philip 
06 - 25 73 59 75

Goos Boelhouwer
Hoogheemraadschap De Stichtse Rijnlanden (CRA) 
030-634 5907

Marijke Jaarsma
Waterschap Vallei en Eem (PWVE)
06 50636713

Project type
Risk dialogue
Provincie Utrecht, Hoogheemraadschap De Stichtse Rijnlanden, Waterschap Vallei en Veluwe, Veiligheidsregio Utrecht, provincie Gelderland, NMU, 14 gemeenten zuidwest & 16 gemeenten oost
Drought, Heat, Urban flooding, Waterlogging