The Antwerp Waterplan draws international attention

Antwerp protects itself against climate change through an Urban Waterplan. With it, Antwerp won the Climate Proof Award. And a place at the Digital World Water Congress.

© Jasper Leonard


Belgian Climate Proof Award

Rising sea level, intense droughts, floods, … Climate change will have a strong impact on cities, especially cities near rivers. As one of the first in Europe, Antwerp developed an Urban Waterplan. Straight away, it won the Belgian Climate Proof Award. And the plan also draws international attention. No wonder that the city of Antwerp was invited for a keynote speech at the Digital World Water Congress. 

Climate change imposes important challenges to urban territories. The City of Antwerp is no exception. Periods of extreme rainfall will increase, both in frequency and intensity. Furthermore, there will be more days of extreme heat. The result: longer periods of drought and reducing groundwater levels.

Three watercities

The City of Antwerp counters these predictions by developing a Urban Waterplan. After analysis of the existing infrastructure, a team of designers and engineers marked out three kinds of watercities in Antwerp. First: the hidden watercity, as a reference to the medieval water system of Antwerp. Second: the natural watercity, which focuses on the natural substrate of Antwerp. And third: the artificial watercity, which embodies the technical interventions from the past centuries. These were necessary for the city to grow and evolve, but are now insufficient to face the future.

Useful tools and short-term solutions

The Urban Waterplan harmonizes these three cities, while at the same time taking into account climate change. It contains solutions for retaining rainwater for a longer period, and for discharging it in the event of excess water. The plan provides useful tools and short-term solutions to capture water as locally as possible or to reuse it immediately. From water collection in city squares to the installation of green roofs on industrial premises and private homes. It involves as many stakeholders as possible: the city, companies, research centers and citizens.

World Water Congress

The Urban Waterplan attracts attention. In Belgium, it won the Climate Proof Award, issued by the organisation for consulting engineers ORI. And on June 3, Samuel Van de Vijver - the City’s coordinator of the Waterplan – gave a keynote speech during the Digital World Water Congress. In the same session, representatives of Manchester and Copenhagen also spoke, two other cities that make water resilience a top priority.