Building blocks for the climate adaptation strategy in Noord-Holland
The province of Noord-Holland aims to be prepared for more extreme weather conditions and the rising sea level by 2050. For that reason, it has drawn up, in collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat, municipalities, district water boards, Working Regions, and Security Regions, a memorandum entitled Climate adaptation in Noord-Holland: building blocks for the provincial strategy.
What is the purpose of this memorandum?
With this memorandum, the province of Noord-Holland intends to set the course for its ambitions regarding the climate adaptation of the province. In the memorandum, the authorities indicate their roles in the tasking of rendering the province climate-adaptive, and how they intend to collaborate with partners. This memorandum will serve as the basis for the pursuit of concrete results in the years ahead. Once a year, the authorities will check with their partners whether the ambitions set out in the memorandum are still up to date. Furthermore, every year they will assess whether plans or projects need to be amended in order to achieve the ambitions.
How has the memorandum been developed?
The province has written this memorandum in collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat, the Working Regions of the Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation, the district water boards, and the Security Regions that are (partly) located in Noord-Holland. In the spring of 2019, the province of Noord-Holland launched an internal exploratory study into the issue of climate adaptation. This was prompted by the Noord-Holland Provincial Environmental Vision 2050, in which climate adaptation is one of the key taskings. In the summer of 2019, the province asked the partners for a substantive response to this study and requested them to indicate their views as to the provincial added value. On 18 September 2019, the study and the partners’ responses were processed into this memorandum.
What are the main themes?
The province has set down four themes that are determinative for its ambitions:
- Resilient vital and vulnerable functions;
- Adaptive rural areas;
- Future-proof built-up areas;
- Flood risk management with spatial quality.
Each theme is outlined below.
Resilient vital and vulnerable functions
Failure of such vital and vulnerable functions as drinking water, power, and infrastructure must be prevented. The province has a key role in this respect; it is the link between the central government and the regions. Examples of actions the province will be carrying out to this end:
- Roads and waterways will be rendered climate adaptive wherever possible. A stress test of provincial tunnels has already been completed; the authorities are working on stress tests of roads and waterways;
- An article on climate adaptation will be incorporated into the provincial Environment Decree, which will require municipalities to assess new developments in terms of the impact of climate change.
Adaptive rural areas
The province plays a key role in the planning of rural areas. Climate change is resulting, e.g., in waterlogging and jeopardising the availability of sufficient fresh water. By integrating climate adaptation into the rural area taskings, a great deal can be accomplished. Examples of actions the province will be carrying out:
- Wherever possible, taskings involving rural areas will be tackled in interconnection with the region. Climate adaptation will be integrated into provincial policy regarding rural areas, such as the Food Vision and the Biodiversity Masterplan that the province will be drawing up;
- A climate stress testhas been conducted for common crops and nature north of the North Sea Canal;
- Wherever possible, in implementation projects in rural areas, climate adaptation will tie in with other taskings and functions.
Future-proof built-up areas
Responsibility for the built-up environment is primarily vested with the municipalities. The province supports municipal projects that link climate adaptation to other key taskings, such as health and biodiversity. Examples of actions the province will be carrying out:
- Stress tests will be conducted for the provincial buildings, and measures will be implemented if necessary;
- Climate adaptation on industrial estates will be encouraged by earmarking the sustainability subsidies for these estates for climate adaptation.
Flood risk management with spatial quality
The province will continue its current flood protection policy for the regions. Additional attention will be focused on disaster control and linkage with spatial quality. Furthermore, the coast is regarded as a broad area, in which various functions, such as biodiversity, leisure activities, and flood risk management can reinforce one another. Examples of actions the province will be carrying out:
- The authorities will remain committed to proper preparation for evacuations during a flood, in collaboration with the Security Regions and district water boards. Aftercare will also be considered;
- Once the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute KNMI comes up with new data regarding the rise in sea level, the authorities and the partners will check how such developments will impact the provincial environment.
Lessons to be learned
With its climate adaptation efforts, the province of Noord-Holland ties in with the policy pursued under the provincial Environmental Vision. Climate adaptation is one of the preconditions set out in this Vision. One of the ambitions is to address all the physical environment taskings in an interconnected manner. In actual practice, the authorities are still exploring ways to tackle various taskings in an integrated manner, what part the province plays in this respect, and how collaboration with other stakeholders can best be substantiated. What elements are best tackled at the local level, and what elements call for a supra-regional approach? How can the collaboration between Working Regions, the province, and district water boards be fleshed out further?
Annebet van Duinen