It's Time for a Third Miracle of Rotterdam

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The growth of Rotterdam as a main port is due to two major interventions in the water system: the construction of the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway), completed in 1872, and the additional construction of two parallel canals in the post-war decades. These interventions and their major effects on economic prosperity and urban development can be regarded as miracles. However, the interventions mentioned also had less positive consequences, such as the destruction of an important ecosystem, increasing high water levels in the urban area and strong salt intrusion, which endangers the freshwater supply for drinking water , agriculture and industry. These negative effects will be amplified as a result of climate change and sea level rise, making urbanized delta areas such as the Rotterdam region increasingly vulnerable to flooding, salt intrusion and decrease of biodiversity. A new wonder of Rotterdam is needed, in which again an intervention in the Nieuwe Waterweg can play a key role. Transforming the Nieuwe Waterweg from a deep industrial shipping channel to a relatively shallow green-blue estuary can be a catalyst in a process that makes the region less vulnerable for flooding and salt intrusion, and creates more biodiversity. Simultaneously it will trigger processes of energy transition, circular economy and spatial cohesion.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Dynamic river landscape
  • Estuary
  • Nature based solution
  • Sedimentation
  • Shipping canal


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