Preconditions for implementation

The wickedness

Public actors and governance researchers can contribute to broadening the debate and addressing preconditions for successful policymaking and implementation of spatial adaptation measures.

Sound institutional settings

Coordination between stakeholders is crucial for the successful implementation of spatial adaptation measures. Currently, however, spatial adaptation is institutionally fragmented, falling within the jurisdiction of various public and private actors, such as municipalities, provinces, regional water authorities and housing corporations. Responsibilities and roles of the different actors should therefore be clearly distinguished and defined in policy guidelines.

Integration with vested interests

Spatial adaptation needs to be integrated with vested interests, such as parking space and housing. Until now, spatial adaption measures are mainly seen as costly additional claims on scare urban space which do not necessarily pay out in the short-term. The task of scientists is to inform stakeholders about their long-term benefits for climate resilience and human health to promote their acknowledgement in policy agendas.

Stakeholder involvement

Two-way communication between stakeholders is essential during the implementation process of spatial adaptation measures. This includes effective science-policy interactions and the involvement of citizens by policymakers who are responsible for the implementation of measures and transfer information between scientists and citizens. Until now, many local authorities struggle with organizing meaningful stakeholder participation. 

Interactions between stakeholders involved in implementing spatial adaptation measures
Interactions between stakeholders involved in implementing spatial adaptation measures. Credits: Utrecht University

Effective science-policy interactions

Policymakers (and citizens) should be able to understand and use the information provided by scientific institutes required for decision-making in spatial adaptation. It is therefore important that they also contribute to knowledge development (‘knowledge co-production'). For instance, their input is required to design tools, that translate climate projections into spatially explicit information, and to improve social and governance processes.

Citizen participation

Furthermore, the involvement of citizens is critical for increasing societal acceptance and local adoption of spatial adaptation measures. The implementation of measures on private land (e.g. green roofs, removing tiles in garden) represents an essential mechanism of a city to adapt to climate change and urbanisation (‘citizen co-production').

Group of young people on a rooftop in Buenos Aires learning urban gardening from a mid adult woman
Citizen participation in spatial adaptation. Credits:

Through interdisciplinary cooperation and in an integrated way, researchers at the Water, Climate and Future Deltas hub address the implementation of spatial adaptation, aiming for sustainable development of cities in precarious deltas.

Overcoming barriers for implementation
Future challenges
Interdisciplinary research group