Urban water-based planning is a crucial instrument for identifying climate change protection and adaptation measures. Urban development is an ongoing process, and if the “Climate changes, society must also change”.
Representatives of different Mexican institutions travelled to Holland and Germany to reflect on and exchange experiences regarding the water-related adaptation actions established in the Determined National Contribution (DNC) within the framework of the Paris Accord. During the trip, the participants wrote articles to express their impressions on different topics.
Without an adequate protection system, approximately 60% of the surface of the Netherlands would be flooded on a regular basis, affecting 9 million persons and 70% of its Gross National Product. For this reason, one of the baselines of water policies is adaptation. This is also reflected in urban planning. During the trip, the Mexican participants visited different institutions in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague, and Delft, all of which are involved in the topic of urban water management.
Urban planning and disaster management instruments are vastly important for ensuring an adequate drinking water supply, wastewater drainage, and protection against floods, summarized as efforts to strengthen climate resilience.
In Holland, since the 19th Century Industrial Revolution, a ring of canals has been built for rainwater runoff. These canals, or dykes, protected 1,100 hectares of the country’s territory. Since then, Holland’s population and cities have grown. Adding to that growth the current effects of climate change, which imply an increase in floodwater, this infrastructure was unprepared for extreme events and has exhausted its service capacity.
In response to this challenge, instead of increasing dyke infrastructure, the most recently implemented strategy has been to prepare the city for the anticipated climate change-induced extreme rainfall and the resulting flooding. If the “Climate changes, society must also change”.
Water-based urban planning must identify and consider these types of climate change adaptation measures. Various cities in the Netherlands have implemented measures in public and private spaces which jointly increase the cities’ capacity to function as a “sponge”.
With respect to urban planning in the Netherlands, regions vulnerable to flooding have been pinpointed and different solutions have been considered for avoiding damage while embellishing the city. Various examples were presented during the trip: permeable pavement materials, green roofs and wall gardens, optimal use of vacant lots, all of which create sustainable neighborhoods, construction of malls with spaces having a dual urban function, such as offering dry and rainwater capture systems, are simultaneously utilized as recreational and leisure spaces.
The field trip took place from November 27 to December 8, 2017. Participants included representatives from the General Directorate of Climate Change of the Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC), the Mexican Institute of Water Technology (IMTA), the Ministry of Urban Development and the Environment of Yucatan State (SEDUMA), and the Underground Water Technical Committee of the Yucatan Peninsula Watershed Council.