Retrieved from: https://www.waternet.nl/nieuws/2021/augustus/omgevingsprogramma-riolering-amsterdam/
Creating synergy between biodiversity and climate resilience in Amsterdam
By Patricia van Hemert, HvA
In the metropolitan region of Amsterdam, the historic and urban character of the city has a major influence on the typical challenges that the city faces. Many people live in a relatively small area, which leads to a struggle for space. This inevitably leads to a number of challenges and requires continuous innovation, especially in the areas of mobility and air quality; circularity and local food systems; biodiversity and climate adaptation.
Biodiversity is considered essential for maintaining ecosystems and thus a healthy living environment in the city (Wild Amsterdam, 2020). A well-connected green structure supports plants, animals and people in the urban climate and is of great importance to enhance biodiversity (Plan Amsterdam, 2020) and well-being. A goal of the municipality of Amsterdam was to connect the natural reserves of Amsterdam to each other by 2020 and to solve all ecological bottlenecks (barriers and fragmentation). Of the 351 bottlenecks in 2015, 239 have been resolved in 2020. When all natural areas in the city are connected, natural processes are not interrupted, which is considered good for the biodiversity in the city (De Gezonde Stad, 2021).
The increase of biodiversity will not only have a positive influence on a healthy living environment, but will also be extremely helpful in tackling a related issue: adapting the city to a changing climate. Due to climate change, extreme rainfall is becoming more frequent, and Amsterdam is not equipped for this. Cities used to be designed to drain rainwater as quickly as possible, but given the high volume of water during extreme rain, this is no longer possible. The water is less able to find its way to the soil, leading to overcrowded sewers and flooded basements. Amsterdam needs to focus on using rainwater, temporarily store it or let it infiltrate into the groundwater. Adding greenery is increasingly seen as a solution to fulfil this buffer effect of the city.
This buffer effect is also highly necessary during longer periods of drought. The temperature in ‘stony’ areas rises even higher during dry and hot periods, and the damage to existing nature is greater. Enough greenery is an important condition to find relaxation and coolness, but also to provide sufficient space for natural life in the city.
On the themes of biodiversity and climate resilience, we have observed two contradictory movements in Amsterdam: there is quite a clear picture of the necessary and available solutions, in which increasing the amount of greenery holds a central position, as it fulfills many different goals for people, water and drought and thriving natural ecosystems. But at the same time, the reality shows that the amount of green space per inhabitant in the city is declining, especially in neighbourhoods in and around the centre (De Gezonde Stad, 2021). The implementation of solutions is highly dependent on the right knowledge in the right place and effective cooperation, in a densifying city in which every m2 is fought over.
There are various plans from the municipality and private initiatives, the urgency to take action is high, but there is currently a lack of a large-scale partnership by which means this can be taken a step further. Also, educational initiatives are growing, but still lack scale and focus on the interrelatedness of the challenges and their solutions. The Amsterdam focus in the Urban GoodCamp project is thus to further research and develop education activities in these fields in order to increase effective cooperation on these pressing urban issues.
De Gezonde Stad (2021), De Gezonde Stad Monitor 2020. Retrieved from the internet on 15 March 2021 via: https://degezondestad.org/de-gezonde-stad-monitor
Plan Amsterdam (2020), edition 2: Groen in de verdichtende stad. Retrieved from the internet on 12 March 2021 via: https://www.amsterdam.nl/bestuur-organisatie/organisatie/ruimte-economie/ruimte-duurzaamheid/plan-amsterdam/
Wild Amsterdam (2020), a Delta Plan on Biodiversity for an Amsterdam rich in nature 2020-2025. Retrieved from the internet on 11 March 2021 via: