However, with 90 percent of the city sitting below sea level, Rotterdam faces significant obstacles to stay afloat in the face of sea-level rise and flooding brought on by climate change.2 The city is turning this challenge into an opportunity to become a global leader of water and adaptation innovation through its mission to become '100 percent climate proof' by 2025.
Rotterdam is steering its climate adaptation initiatives with public engagement, cutting-edge research from its local institutions, and subsidies to incentivize 'green' practices among its 600,000 occupants. A central objective is the 50 percent reduction of harmful CO2 emissions by 2025.2
To that end, sustainable transportation policy has given cyclists right of way in traffic, with separated paths to privilege bicycles.4 In an effort to support rooftop gardens, which absorb CO2 and rain, and reduce the urban island temperature effect, the city offers a 50 percent subsidy for their construction. Since 2008, there has been an average of 40,000 square meters of rooftop gardens constructed per year.5
To control the future effects of extreme flooding the city has invested in a range of innovative rainwater storage solutions. For instance, a newly built parking garage incorporates a 10,000 cubic-meter underground rainwater store.6 Another solution involves stratified public squares that serve both as community centers and water stores during heavy weather. New floating communities on the waterside near the coast are not only architecturally innovative but also attractive to new businesses.7