Advancing urban ecosystem governance in Rotterdam: From experimenting and evidence gathering to new ways for integrated planning

Nico Tillie, Roland van der Heijden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


To improve quality of life as well as the adaptive capacity in the city of Rotterdam over the past 15 years there has been a lot of focus on improving green infrastructure and finding new ways for integrated planning. As many cities face similar challenges they are looking for novel approaches in urban ecosystem governance. The Rotterdam case can be an interesting example but can also reveal new questions to be researched.Before local policies and projects where developed a regional and urban green blue vision of how to improve overall quality of life using green infrastructure were developed. This provided policy frameworks for politicians, policymakers and other actors. Later on the same was done with Urban Waterplan 2, using the Rotterdam Watercity 2030 vision document as a basis. This vision was the result of a stakeholder based planning process which was made for the International Architecture Biennale 2005. Within these frameworks many interesting projects have been built and tested in the city and city region; ranging from a) a roof park over a railway yard to connect neighbourhoods to the waterfront, to b) water squares and c) digging new waterways with connected walking and biking routes. To go from projects to an overall implementation at city level required tools and approaches for better decision making. For the ‘Dakpark’ project as well as for the Zomerhofkwartier, the first climate proof neighbourhood in the city, stakeholder sessions were held and plans were drawn together with urban planners and landscape architects. To feed these processes even better and to know what would be an optimal solution for certain challenges, city data were studied and linked to scalable GIS mapping in the ‘smart city planner’. This tool gives the decision maker the possibility to quickly have an overview of an area and can be used in a stakeholder process to provide relevant additional information and to define joint projects. The tool makes it possible to do this for all 90 neighbourhoods in the city.Overall the urban ecosystem governance in the city of Rotterdam has – with trial and error- lead to a series of innovative projects. The next steps are acceleration and scaling up to city and regional level. Valuing the crucial role of green blue infrastructure for several aspects of the quality of life in cities are paramount.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-144
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Rotterdam
  • Urban ecosystem governance
  • Green infrastructure
  • Flowscapes
  • Resilient strategy
  • Smart city
  • City data
  • Gis
  • ISO37120


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