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Climate adaptation and urban resilience : identifying barriers and drivers in sustainable stormwater management implementation

Noordhoek, R. (2017) Climate adaptation and urban resilience : identifying barriers and drivers in sustainable stormwater management implementation.

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Abstract:The world is urbanizing at a rapid rate. The effects of climate change pose some serious challenges for many cities. One of the major risks of climate change for the built environment is expected to be the increase in extreme weather events. Cities are already vulnerable to extreme rainfall due to the dominance of impervious surfaces. These impermeable surfaces (such as roads, roofs, etc.) are less capable of absorbing rainfall and therefore increase the intensity of rainfall runoff. As rainfall is expected to become more intense for many urban areas around the world, the risk and consequences of pluvial flooding are expected to increase. This makes sustainable stormwater management an increasingly urgent topic for many cities. Climate adaptation is shifting from a phase of awareness to the development of actual strategies, plans and projects in societies. However, many cities struggle to successfully implement measures that make their urban areas more resilient to pluvial flooding. Although interventions to overcome implementation barriers at the local level are recommended by most studies from a theoretical point of view, scientific literature describing successful interventions in practice is scarce. This research aims to contribute to bridging this gap by assessing a number of successful adaptation programmes to provide municipalities with practical advice on how to develop an adaptation strategy that is tailored to their city’s specific characteristics to enable successful implementation. A literature study was carried out that summarised barriers and drivers for successful implementation of stormwater management measures. Seven key aspects for successful policy development were found. Also, three main categories of barriers and drivers in sustainable stormwater management implementation were distinguished: information, resources and institutional arrangements. The combination of these key aspects, barriers and drivers was used for an in-depth analysis of three real-life cases. Three cities that have been relatively successful in developing and implementing their adaptation programmes were assessed: Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Hoboken. It was found that these cities adhered to most of the drivers for success identified by literature, as well as some additional aspects that contributed to their success. The municipalities also made use of a number of tools that can be used to improve implementation of plans to make cities more resilient. The results of the three case studies were validated by semi-structured interviews with key players from each city. The theoretical and empirical patterns were compared using a pattern matching technique. This led to the identification of a number of matches and mismatches between theory and practice. Afterwards, it was analysed why certain elements of the climate adaptation practice deviated from theory. Together with the information collected on adaptation drivers, this led to recommendations on how to align theory and practice. These findings served as ‘building blocks’ towards a roadmap for climate resilient cities. Aligning theory and practice has implications for both climate adaptation literature, as well as the current practice in cities. Certain real-life best practices found during the case studies are under-exposed in scientific literature. On the other hand, the cities could improve their planning and implementation efficiency by following certain best practices from theory. Recommendations are put forward that explore ways in which theory and practice could be changed to improve the implementation of sustainable stormwater management principles. This could provide additional guidance to cities that wish to make their city more resilient to pluvial flooding or develop their own adaptation strategy.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Arcadis Nederland B.V.
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Civil Engineering and Management MSc (60026)
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