Water Management and Multi-Benefit Solutions: The Rotterdam Exchange

Cities around the world face similar challenges but solutions don’t always scale, often forcing cities to recreate work that has already been done.  The 100 Resilient Cities Network Exchange Program is meant to address this problem, offering Chief Resilience Officers (CROs) and their resilience teams the opportunity to share knowledge and innovations. CROs can then take this new knowledge, go home, and begin to implement it. And we, at 100RC, work to share that knowledge publicly so that cities both within and outside of the 100RC Network can learn from the best thinking in resilience.

Read and download the full Rotterdam
Exchange Handbook

In October 2015, CROs and resilience team members from Bangkok, Thailand, Berkeley, USA, Mexico City, Mexico, New Orleans, USA, Norfolk, USA, Rome, Italy, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Surat, India, and Vejle, Denmark, convened in Rotterdam for a Network Exchange on integrated water management.

There is no better place for learning than the living resilience laboratory that is Rotterdam. As a delta city situated primarily below sea level, Rotterdam has designed leading solutions that not only aim to reduce flooding in the city, but also connect water to economic opportunity, recreation, and beautification.  This focus on building multi-benefit solutions is a key tenet of resilience.

The Rotterdam Exchange catalyzed real and concrete action and attendees returned to their cities to act upon the lessons learned and relationships built with fellow CROs, Dutch experts, and 100RC Platform Partners. Early examples include: 

  •  Norfolk, New Orleans, and Rotterdam are collaborating around ideas for enhancing port resilience.
  • Norfolk is evaluating piloting floating structures to help design the coastal community of the future.
  • Mexico City and Rotterdam are exchanging technical information about how to implement water plazas in the Mexican capital.
  • Vejle is reconceptualizing a sluice project with a water-resilient lens.

The Rotterdam Exchange Handbook offers members of the 100RC Network and other city resilience practitioners:

  • Replicable Innovations: CROs describe key innovations explored in the classroom that is Rotterdam – from floating structures designed to respond dynamically to rising sea levels to ‘sponge zones’ for absorbing excess storm water.
  • Shared Tactical Approaches and Tools: CROs participants articulate 8 key lessons learned around project ideation, design, and implementation. Each lesson is supported by a number of practical tactics discussed at the Exchange, case studies showing how these approaches have been employed in other cities, and 100RC Platform tools that can be used for implementing them.
  • Market Needs for Resilience-Building Tools: CROs address private sector providers and 100RC, signaling what kind of tools and services need to be created or scaled to sustain the resilient water agenda.
  • Access to Fellow Network Experts: Extensive background material – from expert presentations to the list of participants – is included in order to facilitate readers’ independent connections and follow ups.

We have seen through our work that cities across the globe share common challenges, but often start from scratch in trying to solve them. By learning from Rotterdam’s state-of-the-art innovations and connecting resilience practitioners from around the world, we hope to scale solutions and spark new ideas for our broad-based resilience movement.

A special thanks to the CRO and resilience teams that participated to the Exchange, co-creating a resource that will hopefully inspire and help fellow practitioners take action in their cities:

  • Arnoud Molenaar (CRO of Rotterdam, the Netherlands)
  • Tantikom Supachai (CRO of Bangkok, Thailand)
  • Timothy Burroughs (CRO of Berkeley, USA)
  • Arnoldo Matus Kramer (CRO of Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Jeff Hebert (CRO of New Orleans, USA)
  • Christine Morris (CRO of Norfolk, USA)
  • Alessandro Coppola (CRO of Rome, Italy)
  • Kamlesh Yagnik (CRO of Surat, India)
  • Jonas Kroustrup (CRO of Vejle, Denmark)