The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly visible. Extreme precipitation events which result in sewage overflow and combined urban flooding nuisance (revised Waterplan 2, 2013), alternate with effects of drought and heat. These effects are magnified within the urban conditions and may result in traffic disruption, flooding damage, pollution and overall economic loss. Therefore, Rotterdam has, like other cities, a major task to deal with Climate Adaptation. Problems with flooding due to heavy rainfall are getting more urgent within Rotterdam. There is an urgency to scale up the implementation making use of integration opportunities that benefit a wider urban perspective and avoid future costs outweigh the current investments to rainproof Rotterdam. Rotterdam has a front-runner’s role in climate adaption, showcasing internationally appreciated innovative solutions. Nevertheless, to live up to the implementation challenge and precede in this role, new innovations focussed on up-scaling and governance are desired. The objective of this research is to contribute to a comprehensive governance approach for public private collaboration (PPC) and up-scaling the implementation process to ‘rainproof’ Rotterdam. Therefore, this research aims to explain and assess why and which different factors in public private collaboration influence the success of implementing climate adaptation. A combination of academic literature, empirical findings and reviews of CA policy, regulation and PPC approaches in Rotterdam’s context, generate theoretical findings and practical advice for governance opportunities. This qualitative research with a multiple case study strategy, is a deliberate choice to study a large number of variables within different types of urban development projects. Data collection through interviews with involved public, private and social parties, result in a rich understanding of the situation. The outcome of this research elaborates on specific points of attention towards influential factors, explains the most successful approaches and PPC models and eventually describes which conditions generate most success. In brief, the main findings are that connective public leadership is exclusively important to deploy the adaptive capacity which is potentially present within society. The municipality has best comparative advantage to perform this connective leadership role, due to its extensive knowledge of the urban fabric, urban goals, stakeholders, implementation processes, and the total water system. Mainstreaming CA generates most opportunities for public private collaboration, as added value for collaborative stakeholders is then at large and mainstreaming generates interdependence which is an important driver. The majority of respondents specify the tactical level is little exposed in Rotterdam’s policy cycle in general and in CA specifically. To accomplish that mainstreaming can indeed lead to up-scaling of the CA, interventions need focus onto this tactical level, through elaboration of specific CA policy and a comprehensive CA program. Joint elaboration of a CA program will increase receptivity, which is besides interdependence, another important driver for collaboration. CA policy can provide a structured framework for translation of strategic visions into better operational projects outcomes, allow mainstreaming and other actors, public, private and social, to initiate and perform projects which can immensely increase CA capacity. This demands less time-consuming municipal interference in the actual operationalization of individual CA projects, which enlarges feasibility of up-scaling, especially considering the current scarce municipal human resources. Public private collaboration based on the alliance model, in which the municipality performs a public connective leadership role and empowers other stakeholders to perform CA action, has most potential for long term collaboration and repeated performance of networks. In this alliance, the social stakeholders have an important role which often shows under-appreciated. Specifically, the group of social entrepreneurs, a group which recently raised in bottom-up self-organisation, showed to perform an important and successful ‘brokerage role’, which relate to competences of boundary spanning. Ultimately, boundary spanning capacity is the utmost important prerequisite for different conditions in the collaborative process which needs attention for overall success of the implementation of CA through public private collaboration.

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Edelenbos, J. (Jurian)
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies

Visser, M. (Maartje). (2017, October 27). Public-private collaboration in climate adaptation to rainproof. Retrieved from