Nearly 60% of the Netherlands’ surface area is susceptible to large-scale coastal and river flooding. About 26% is below present mean sea level, making flood risk management and adaptation to sea level rise essential. Moreover, the Netherlands has the second-highest number of people per square kilometre in Europe and expects an increase in urbanisation. With limited space for green and blue solutions in urban areas, it is a challenge for Dutch cities to stay liveable, green and healthy, and to prevent flooding and land subsidence. The Netherlands is also the world’s largest exporter of agri- and horticultural products. The effects of climate change are expected to be significant on production rates and, consequently, on the economy.
The National Climate Adaptation Strategy (NAS) 2016 identifies a number of impacts which call for immediate action. Addressing these effects and making the Netherlands climate resilient is a joint undertaking and, through the NAS, the government initiates specific projects and programmes to:
- Increase awareness of the necessity of climate change adaptation (CCA);
- Encourage the implementation of adaptation measures;
- Develop and utilise the knowledge base;
- Address urgent climate risks;
- Embed CCA within policy and legislation; and
- Monitor the progress and effectiveness of the adaptation strategy.
However, there are a number of barriers to implementation of the NAS, the most significant of which are:
- Knowledge and expertise on the effects of climate change and the impacts and effectiveness of adaptation measures are not sufficiently available, understandable, accessible and/or up to date for regional and local actors;
- A large difference in the sense of urgency and awareness exists between sectors, regions, government levels, and public and private actors;
- The governance of CCA is highly sectoral at all levels, both within and between public and private bodies, thus hampering an integral approach between sectors and in conjunction with other challenges; and
- CCA may involve high public and private investment costs and lacks financing models, especially when adaptation measures are not included in recurring projects.
The objective of the NL-NASCCELERATE integrated project (IP) is to stimulate and accelerate the application of climate change adaptation (CCA) measures by stakeholders (provinces, water authorities, municipalities, industries, the public, etc.). Through demonstrations, pilots, development of best practices, evaluations and incentives for replication, it will speed up implementation of the National Climate Adaptation Strategy (NAS) 2016. The project will focus on the main sectors where CCA measures are needed: water management, infrastructure, agriculture, nature, health and spatial/urban planning.
Together with complementary funding, this IP aims to fully implement the NAS by removing the abovementioned barriers. Solutions to these barriers are clustered in four interconnected operational objectives:
- Knowledge and tools: develop knowledge products and tools for sectors and actors who are responsible for CCA policy, management and implementation of measures;
- Awareness and sense of urgency: increase the political and governmental awareness and sense of urgency on the need for CCA;
- Governance and integral approach: enhance an integral approach towards CCA policy and develop governance approaches to support this, to enable multi-actor engagement in decision-making; and
- Finance and business models: develop new finance and business models for CCA measures within and across sectors and disciplines.
The IP also aims to develop a monitoring and evaluation system, disseminate knowledge and replicate the results, as well as building the capacities of staff working with CCA issues.
NL-NASCCELERATE will implement the EU adaptation strategy of 2013 and the IP’s approach is aligned with the EU adaptation strategy adopted in February 2021. The project also supports implementation of the European Green Deal, the EU’s biodiversity strategy to 2020, the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 and the 7th Environment Action Programme, as well as the EU Water Framework Directive.
Ιn addition to the IP budget itself, the project will facilitate the coordinated use of more than €1.2 billion in complementary funding from the European Regional Development Fund, Horizon 2020 and national public funds.
- Improved resilience to flooding: better conditions for 31,000 inhabitants and on 11,000 ha;
- Resilience to heat stress: improved conditions for almost 25,000 inhabitants and on more than 410 ha;
- Improved water quality over 30,000 ha of surface water;
- Increased resilience of agricultural land to soil subsidence: 4,000 ha or 5% of land sensitive to soil subsidence where no measures are implemented yet;
- Improved conservation status in almost 8,600 ha of Natura 2000 sites; and
- NAS updated by 2027 using experience gained during the project’s implementation.