Dealing With Threatening Seas – What Cities Can Learn From The Netherlands

js5079 – Joshua Strake
Link – NYT
Sustainability Topic: Water


The Dutch have been dealing with the risks that come with being below sea level for centuries. Now that sea level is rising, more and more cities around the world will find themselves facing the same issues that Dutch cities like Groningen and Rotterdam have been dealing with all along. This Times article gets into what kind of technology Rotterdam implements to prevent damage from flooding – the simple answer is that they embrace it. Summary below.


  • Rotterdam uses built infrastructure in combination with water-absorbing natural landscape (Polders) to reduce the damage and risk from high seas and flooding.
  • Their most notable built investment is the massive¬†Maeslantkering Flood Gate, which is just outside the city at the mouth of the river, designed to prevent floodwater in an emergency.
  • Public places such as parks, plazas, and garages are all designed to also act as retention pools for flood waters, to contain flooding.
  • Flood awareness and safety are also ingrained into Dutch culture – they have an app that alerts you if you are in a flood risk area, and children are forced to learn how to swim fully clothed in the event of disastrous flooding.
  • Lesson for other cities: walls are not enough. You must integrate water safety and management into your public spaces, your people, and your culture to truly address the risk.


Coastal City Citizens, Urban Policymakers, Sustainable Infrastructure Construction Firms

Next Steps

Assess what cities could benefit from similar projects
Said cities commission studies and teams to plan appropriate projects
Gain approval and funding to undertake projects

Comment on Bioplastics Post

This is an interesting idea but I wish they went further into cost, quality, scalability, etc. The company website simply says that waste is broken down to become feed-stock for the plastic. What additional resources are required? Chemicals/Energy? Time? Would like to know more about the costs here. All in all a very interesting idea!


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