- Climate change in the Netherlands means that we can expect more and more extreme weather
- This Agile project has the purpose of making Almelo climate-adaptive once again.
Climate change in the Netherlands has ensured that we can expect more extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain, high temperatures and prolonged drought. These extremes bring all kinds of problems like floods, water pooling at the side of buildings, unpleasant heat between buildings that doesn’t dissipate and subsidence of buildings. The government has therefore commissioned Dutch municipalities to make their region more climate-adaptive. The average municipality only owns about five to ten per cent of the buildings in their region, though, so this also requires action from residents, entrepreneurs and other organisations.
Cyril Mentink has already worked on many projects for various companies and organisations. He is an expert in project-based working methods, and he is an “agile master”. “We have advised the municipality to use the Agile approach in this project. Agile is on the rise. This is because it is the perfect way to achieve constructive results with stakeholders other than the ones in your organisation. Think of customers, residents, entrepreneurs, schools, etc. Agile means, for example, that you first ask residents what their ideas for preventing heavy rains flooding sewers are, and creating a plan as a municipality after that”, says Mentink.
An Agile project does not set a definite result in advance. The approach is flexible and involves taking small steps. A next step is chosen after every small result that has been achieved. This is done in collaboration with the residents and experts that are needed for that particular step. “The big advantage is support from residents. After all, you never tell them what to do; you are using their ideas. The municipality facilitates the process of change.”
The first step was a stakeholder analysis. “We had discussions with property owners, for example, including mental health organisation Dimence. And we showcase the challenge that Almelo is facing (climate adaptation in the city) in the “Huis van katoen en nu”, a meeting place for residents. Those involved can see and show others what challenges lie ahead and how they can be tackled using a scale model.”
Nine focus areas were selected in Almelo based on the stakeholder analysis and a stress test, which shows which areas are the most affected by climate change. One of those is a shopping street. “We create opportunities in collaboration with shopkeepers, experts in the field, and people involved in legislation and regulation, such as traffic officials. We will turn these opportunities into a concrete and feasible plan next year, which will last for two years. Once again: in collaboration with residents and entrepreneurs. This will also take way less time than if the municipality comes up with, designs and implements everything themselves. Residents are often able to do a lot themselves.”
What those plans will be is not yet known, but Mentink does give an example: “Suppose we want to prevent the sewers from flooding in case of heavy rainfall. One solution could be to drain rainwater through greenery. In that case, drainpipes would have to be disconnected from the sewers. If you do that the traditional way, the municipality must convince the property owners to disconnect their drainpipes.
The first question to arise will then be, who is going to pay for that? And how can we convince people to cooperate? If you choose an agile approach, people will come up with a solution themselves, enthuse their neighbours and make a start themselves. By removing the tiles around the drainpipe, for example, so that the municipality can then dig them out.”
The implementation of all plans requires craftsmanship, of course; residents and entrepreneurs cannot do everything themselves. That is why the project team calls on a platform full of experts. A platform of and for innovators in construction like Pioneering.nl, for example. The challenges are explained to a room full of companies in a short pitch, and they will then come up with a solution together. “This is how we can use the ideas and experience of many companies, and get the most out of it”, says Mentink.