Urban areas are continuously “under construction”. Governments, companies and private entities are investing in urban areas; for example, the management of park spaces, maintenance of infrastructure, and redevelopment of houses. For implementation of adaptation, these developments are important opportunities. Implementation of adaptation is about using regular processes of management, maintenance and redevelopment.

The following elements are important for establishing spatial adaptation:

  • Maintenance
    Adaptation measures can reduce future maintenance costs. Unsustainable locations for urban developments, such as areas with high rates of soil subsidence, may result in reoccurring damage from collapsing drainage pipes and damage to buildings and infrastructures. Spatial adaptation can reduce such future damage.
  • Area development
    Solutions can often be found outside the individual management and ownership situation. For instance, in Delft an example demonstrates how a collectively owned garden can function as a water storage facility for extreme rainfall events. Small scale collaborations can help to combine maintenance budgets. This can help to create initiatives such as water squares (q.v. the example of  Rotterdam)
  • Tendering
    Integrated contracts are increasingly popular. Integrated contracts make sure that different project phases become the responsibility of one party. A well known example is the DBFM(O) contract: Design, Build, Finance, Maintain, (Operate). If such a contract is tendered for a period of 30 years, the tenderer accepts the risk of future climate related damages. This may stimulate adaptation measures. This way of tendering can be applied at different moments of the tendering procedures.
  • Stimulating private parties
    Many parties are unfamiliar with concepts such as spatial adaptation and water-robust (re)development. Raising awareness is important and may inspire private actors to take adaptation into account. Tools like the Urban Blue Green Grids tool and the Guide may help to make better informed choices with regard to avoided damages and reduced maintenance costs.


Climate-proof and water-resilient planning is a substantial part of long-term investment, management and maintenance programmes. Objectives and challenges are translated into concrete actions that are taken into account during the regular planning of work. Timing, actions and budgets are tuned according to the urgency of adaptation, and are flexible to take uncertainties into account. There is an awareness of a life cycle approach (possibly facilitated through inherent contracts). This results in a coherent collection of measures that lead to direct cost-reduction, reducing costs due to damage and future maintenance.


  • An example of adjustment of a housing block in a neighbourhood with a large amount of hardened surface area is Jan's Garden.
  • Various consultancies produce tools for Life Cycle Costing (pdf, 681 kB) , giving insight into the relation between replacement and maintenance investments.  The tools clarify how high initial investments outweigh the risks of high damage and maintenance costs in the long term.
  • School playgrounds in the region of Haaglanden have been (re)developed with more green structures, with the help of the subsidy programme called Green playgronds. The goal was to allow children to grow up in a greener environment. This had a positive side effect for a climate-proof city. The playgrounds, which originally consisted of hardened surfaces, now contribute to infiltrating and retaining water. They also function as cooling islands during periods of heat, and work as stepping-stones for biodiversity. It is a good example of how initiatives on (semi)private terrain can be stimulated by lining up with other initiatives to climate-proof an area.
  • The Intratuin  garden centre in the city of Zwolle is being developed in a green way. A green design was drawn up, together with governmental institutes, which is beneficial for climate proofing and for the image of Intratuin.
  • The spatial plans for the “Kraanbolwerk” urban area in the city of Zwolle, located outside the dyke, are presented in an inspiratieboek, compiled by the municipality for project developers. The book contains many possible measures for climate-proof and water-resilient planning that can also be implemented elsewhere.
  • Management of the public space in the EVA Lanxmeer neighbourhood in the city of Culemborghas been transferred to the residents. The municipality only has a monitoring role. The residents maintain a greener and more diverse public space with 10 percent less budget than is usually spent on the maintenance of public space.
  • In the city of Nijmegen, the Lindenholt neighbourhood maintains its public space through a Design, Build, Finance and Maintain (DBFM) contract.

  • The DBFM contracts are used by Rijkswaterstaat (the executive arm of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) for spatial quality, and can be used as a method to secure spatial adaptation. In this contract the client describes its (long term) ambition in an Ambition document. The registering parties translate this Ambition document into “reference solutions”. A group of experts assesses the solutions during the dialogue phase, after which the contracted party can make a final offer. The “reference solutions” form the basis for the monitoring of the design, implementation, management and maintenance after contracting.

  • More detailed information and experiences on contracts and procurements in the infrastructure sector can be found at CROW. RIONED offers information on procurements in the sewage sector.


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