Adaptation Strategy in West Betuwe, the fruit capital of the Netherlands
The municipality of West Betuwe is located among major rivers, which renders it prone to flooding and soil subsidence. In addition, as the largest fruit region of the Netherlands, West Betuwe requires substantial volumes of water during spring and summer. Thus, the area is vulnerable to drought and water shortages. Climate change is adding to the risks of flooding, soil subsidence, and drought. In the pursuit of climate and water resilience, West Betuwe has drawn up an adaptation strategy. The paragraphs below explain how it has been developed, what the municipality intends to achieve, and how it intends to finance its plans.
How has the adaptation strategy been developed?
West Betuwe has based its local adaptation strategy (LAS) on the national Delta Programme and the Regional Adaptation Strategy (RAS) of the Climate-adaptive River Region working region. The municipality started by conducting stress tests to identify the main bottlenecks and high-risk locations. The outcomes were first discussed within the municipal organisation and subsequently in risk dialogues with external parties. The external risk dialogues involved meetings with other parties and a survey among local residents. In November 2021, the survey was completed by 322 residents. The meetings and the survey have revealed that residents and entrepreneurs set great store by the issue of climate change. Extreme weather is causing increasingly frequent problems, and they would like to see society address this.
A summary of the results of the heat, drought, and waterlogging stress tests can be viewed via online Story maps.
What approach is West Betuwe taking?
Up to 2050, the municipality of West Betuwe intends to pursue a cyclic approach, i.e., it will be following the “Analysis – Ambition – Action” method in successive periods of time. In the period between 2022 and 2027, the emphasis will be on the development of policy and know-how, on raising awareness, on research, and on pilot projects. In the period from 2027 to 2033, it intends to repeat this method with a focus on taking measures and tightening standards. The plans for the period beyond 2033 have not yet been endorsed, as the municipality prefers to be free to adapt to current events and new developments.
What are the goals set out in the adaptation strategy?
With its adaptation strategy, West Betuwe is pursuing the following goals:
- Reducing the risk of additional damage in area developments;
- Combating heat stress;
- Reducing local water shortage and limiting its impact;
- Reducing local waterlogging and limiting its impact;
- Protecting the area against flooding.
Regulations for spatial developments
In order to embed climate adaptation in the municipal organisation and in society, West Betuwe has set down the following regulations for spatial developments:
- We are greening: henceforth, in each new development, the municipality will be exploring options for water storage and for more greenery.
- We are collaborating: through information provision and grants, the municipality is encouraging and helping residents, entrepreneurs, and other parties to climate-proof their property.
- We are working efficiently: the municipality will be taking adaptation measures once opportunities arise, for example, in new urban developments, renovations, and replacement projects. Such measures will be implemented in interconnection with other taskings.
- Our approach is effective: in each development the party responsible must state how climate change is being accommodated. The municipality will be monitoring and evaluating the progress and the approach.
- We are funding sustainably: the municipality is properly considering the costs and benefits of adaptation measures and making comparative assessments of the intended measures and other taskings. Investments will be made in additional management if the long-term prevention of damage and additional costs so requires.
Specific ambitions categorised under four themes
In addition to the regulations referred to above, the municipality of West Betuwe has drawn up specific points of departure for climate adaptation. Rather than hard and fast regulations, these points of departure mainly involve ambitions. The municipality has categorised them under four themes:
- A safe and healthy living environment, adaptive housing design;
- Sustainable economy, commercial activities, and vital functions;
- Future-proof agriculture, horticulture, and cattle farms;
- Biodiversity, Nature, and resilient landscapes for leisure activities.
These points of departure are presented on pages 16 to 18 of the adaptation strategy. Some examples: the municipality has a local heat plan; new industrial estates will be developed in a climate-adaptive and nature-inclusive manner; the municipality is increasingly joining forces with the district water board in the pursuit of water retention; and when planting new greenery, its biodiversity value and climate resilience will be taken into account.
How does West Betuwe intend to finance its ambitions?
Adaptation measures call for additional investment. West Betuwe aims to gain as full a picture as possible of the costs and benefits, and weigh these against the expected long-term climate damage. To finance its climate ambitions, West-Betuwe has drawn up a six-point strategy:
- The municipality looks at the long-term perspective and spreads investments across many years;
- It is investigating options for implementing adaptation measures using the resources available for each policy domain;
- The municipality is aiming for a central adaptation budget. This will cover any additional climate adaptation costs involved in measures that are funded from other budgets;
- The municipality is distinguishing between new developments and renovations/maintenance in existing areas, with separate financial instruments for each category;
- The national government and the region are key partners with respect to funding local climate adaptation efforts. The municipality expects to be able to apply for a minimum sum of EUR 611,852 via the national Incentive Scheme;
- The municipality aims to set an example for the private sector. With its investments, it intends to encourage businesses to expend additional efforts.
For the years 2022 to 2026, West Betuwe has set down the outcomes of the adaptation strategy in a programme of measures. The measures are focused on campaigns and also comprise such specific local measures as additional greenery or the construction of water storage facilities. For example, one of the measures is intended to address waterlogging in the Waardenburg Korte Woerden area. For the rest, the measures comprise thirty process activities, such as drawing up communication requirements or the development of a local heat plan. Cases in point are an awareness campaign aimed at greening industrial estates, and the development of regulations that encourage farmers to innovate and to engage in more sustainable practices.
Lessons to be learned
West Betuwe has learned a great deal from drawing up this adaptation strategy:
- Be aware of the fact that you are working on a change tasking and on a transition. Usually, this involves slow and long processes. Celebrate any small results that you achieve.
- Turn your efforts into a collective tasking. As the saying goes, if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
- Utilise your co-workers’ expertise; they are experts in their fields. Your challenge is to maximise their potential.
- Learn from external organisations and businesses; some of them have already made more progress and harbour more ambition.
- Be content with the maximum you can achieve; monitor the results and the effects; use the evaluations for subsequent projects.
Gemeente West Betuwe