Heerenveen tackling the climate tasking with climate adaptation and biodiversity implementation agenda 2020-2022
The city of Heerenveen aims to be climate-neutral by 2050. This means that the municipality intends to create room for rich biodiversity and that it is preparing for more extreme weather. To concretise its ambitions, it has drawn up a climate adaptation and biodiversity implementation agenda 2020-2022. The paragraphs below set out what this implementation agenda entails.
How has the implementation agenda been developed?
In 2018, the municipality drew up an Initial Memorandum on Climate Adaptation. In 2019, climate adaptation was incorporated into the municipal sustainability programme, along with three other topics: the energy transition, biodiversity, and circularity. The Initial Memorandum and the sustainability programme constitute the basis for this implementation agenda.
What timeframes does the implementation agenda cover?
The implementation agenda sets out the municipal vision and the three different timeframes within which it aims to realise its ambitions and goals. The timeframes extend from the distant future back to the near future:
1) 2050: long-term ambition. With respect to the long term, Heerenveen’s general ambition is to be climate-resilient with optimum biodiversity. This ambition will be realised on the basis of such national guidelines as are contained in the Delta Plan on Biodiversity and the Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation. Furthermore, the municipality will continue to engage in risk dialogues with residents, experts, and businesses, in order to keep re-assessing which measures are most urgent.
2) 2030: promising prospect. Heerenveen has set down strategic goals for 2030. By then, the municipality intends to be active in the climate and biodiversity fields in the following ways:
- Collaborating with residents and businesses to render and manage the living environment in a climate-adaptive and biodiverse manner;
- Resolving the most urgent issues relating to climate adaptation and biodiversity;
- In new construction projects, renovation projects, and building maintenance, the public space will be planned in a climate-adaptive and biodiverse manner;
- A strong nature network will be created within the municipality, with the aim of enhancing biodiversity.
3) 2022: short-term goals. In the next few years, Heerenveen intends to achieve the following goals:
- The first residential climate adaptation projects are under way;
- Residents, businesses, and the municipality are more aware of climate change and know more about climate adaptation and biodiversity;
- The municipality knows which locations are vulnerable to heat, drought, and waterlogging. It is also aware of potential solutions;
- Pilot projects involving nature-inclusive farming are under way;
- The municipality knows how to improve the nature network and has embarked on the process;
- The city centre is a showcase for greening efforts elsewhere in the urban area;
- Rural areas are already gaining in climate resilience and biodiversity;
- The municipality is setting a good example.
What else does the implementation agenda state?
The implementation agenda also states how Heerenveen views its own role, how it intends to collaborate with a range of parties, and how it intends to communicate. Furthermore, it contains a comprehensive description of the ten projects that will be carried out in the years to come. By monitoring the progress and the results of these projects annually, the municipality can adjust their course in due time, if need be.
Examples of projects
The implementation agenda for 2022 features ten projects that Heerenveen aims to launch in the very near future. Four examples are presented below.
- Dialogue on Climate Stress Test in bottleneck areas: by reference to the Friesland Climate Atlas and by conducting risk dialogues with various parties, the municipality has established that certain locations can become extremely hot. The highest temperatures are found at industrial estates, in old neighbourhoods, and in several centres. Along with the parties concerned, the authorities are investigating potential measures and linkage opportunities for each area.
- Residential greening initiatives: the municipality is offering support and has set up a grant scheme for residential initiatives relating to the climate and biodiversity. One example of such an initiative is hanging five hundred birdboxes for titmice in order to combat processionary caterpillars. Furthermore, a pilot project will be launched involving house front gardens, and the municipality will set up a grant scheme for green rooftops and other climate adaptation measures.
- Greening industrial estates: a “Green Industrial Estates” perspective will be developed, aimed at replacing pavement with greenery, in collaboration with the business community.
- Action plan for climate-resilient municipal buildings: the municipality is going to render its own buildings climate-adaptive, e.g., by greening the façades. Thus, it intends to set a good example and inspire residents.
Lessons to be learned
The municipality of Heerenveen has gained a range of insights. These are the main lessons to be learned:
- Measures to achieve one climate goal may have an unexpected effect on the achievement of another goal. For example, a tree planted for additional cooling could cast a shadow on nearby solar panels.
- The municipality needs to continue to garner support among residents and entrepreneurs. This calls for continued and efficient communication.
- A measure that appears logical upon conception may turn out to be difficult to implement, for example, because of insufficient experience with such measures.
- As developments continue to move forward, the municipality continues to learn. It is, therefore, good to have a concrete agenda for the short term and broader goals for the longer term. This enables the course to be adjusted whenever necessary.
- Projects involving the public space impact its maintenance and management. It is important to chart the costs involved and to avoid once-only actions.
Ragna van Sonsbeek