Cathelijne Bouwkamp and the Plan to Protect Arnhem From Global Heating

The Dutch city has set out a 10 year plan to protect against droughts and heatwaves.

04.08.2020 | by Christy Romer
Photo of Arnhem, on Wallpaper
Photo of Arnhem, on Wallpaper

The Netherlands has something of a reputation for being eco-friendly.

The country has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 49% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. A pilot project in the North East of the country has tested whether bike paths can be made from recycled plastic, and architects in the South pioneered an apartment block that has so many plants that it offers a new form of ‘green therapy.’

On a city level, Utrecht, the fourth largest in the Netherlands, is home to both the world’s largest multi-storey bike park and plans for one of the largest car-free districts in the world.

Now Arnhem, a city with a population of 153,000, is pushing a commitment to the environment even further.

As reported in The Guardian, Arnhem and its alderman Cathelijne Bouwkamp have unveiled a ten-year plan that will see 10% of the city’s asphalt dug up and replaced with grasses and other plants. This will be based on ‘underused’ roads, in order to help absorb rain and deal with heat, but will work in such a way as to avoid negatively impacting on accessibility.


A tweet from Cathelijne Bouwkamp. It reads: “We need to fight climate change and make the city resilient to its effects. In Arnhem we do it green, smart and together! ??? #climate adaptation #Arnhem”


In addition, trees will be planted for extra shade, and new ponds and covered areas will be built near shopping centres.

The impetus is preparation for a ‘climate stress test’, a nation-wide test scheduled for the end of this year to see which streets in cities around the country are vulnerable to flooding and heat damage.

“The energy transition is there to ensure that the city remains liveable in the future,” Bouwkamp said, as quoted in The Guardian. “We must also adapt to the climate change that is taking place now. Flooding, heat and drought are increasing.”

Climate expert Marjolein Pijpers-Van Esch of Delft University of Technology added that “both adaptation to climate change and combating” it are necessary.

“The sooner we stop using fossil energy, the less we need to protect our living environment from extreme weather,” she said.

Arnhem has also benefited from 70 new hydrogen-powered vehicles that appeared on the city streets, as a result of the local H2 drive initiative.

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