The Ambition step is intended to determine the level of ambition and the process of anchoring this ambition in objectives and strategies to attain these objectives. Usually this is a repetitive process, in which possible measures are regularly diverted and fed back to the problem analysis. This process comprises consultations on budgets, political priorities, and possibilities for joint action.

This guide gives you suggestions, tools and examples that can help you embed adaptation to climate change or water resilient planning in your own (spatial) process or within your organisation.

The Ambition step is about making your spatial adaptation ambitions in the area of water-resilient and climate-proof planning concrete. This means that:

  • One or more achievable objectives are set.
  • It is determined how these objectives can be accomplished.
  • The goals and the approach to reach these objectives are supported both within and outside your organisation.

  • The options for deviating from, or leaving the original measures as planned, are kept open. This allows measures to be flexible and change with new insights and circumstances. For drought, heat, extreme precipitation and flood risk, this means short-term decisions can be linked to long-term challenges.

The motives for formulating objectives for climate change adaptation or water-resilient planning, and for determining your strategy may differ: development plans or spatial development strategy, a memorandum on sustainability, a MIRT procedure (MIRT: Multi-Year Programme for Infrastructure, Spatial Planning and Transport), a risk analysis or policy plan. All these options can be a starting point as a means to an end to reduce vulnerabilities and make the most of opportunities.

The role on the basis of which you formulate objectives and determine your strategy may also differ: initiator, spatial planning authority, water management, involved citizen or citizen collective, non-governmental organisation, financier, etc.


The objectives aim at the vision that you have in mind for a certain area. Strategies explain how these objectives can be put into practice.

Formulating objectives and strategies is usually a process involving different phases in which the ambition becomes more explicit during every phase. During the process, the challenges are measured against possible measures, available budget, political priorities, involved partners and other preconditions. This means that in practice you have to go through the “Objectives and challenges” and “Strategies” steps on multiple occasions before rounding them off.

One way to facilitate this process is by organising a set of workshops that aim to establish objectives and strategies, together with all participants. This allows knowledge available on a local/regional level to be embedded.

Good experience on the subject of climate change adaptation comes from the Design Workshops. These workshops are aimed at bringing together knowledge and different disciplines, and at designing creative solutions for neighbourhoods, districts or areas. For more information, go to the Guide to design workshops.


The outcome of the Ambition step is an adaptation strategy – in one form or another. Obvious parts of this strategy are:

  • Own objectives (of all the stakeholders involved)
  • Tasks and responsibilities of al thel stakeholders
  • Paragraph on funding
  • Agreements on embedding the measures in plans, policy or partner programs.

The adaptation strategy serves as a starting point for diverse implementation plans (Action) and as a basis for implementing climate-proof and water-resilient planning in spatial (re)development and maintenance plans.


Objectives and challenges