Abstraction of the success of mitigating short term measures, climate change will anyhow influence the way in which Flemish society organises its use of land and space. Instead of closing our eyes, it is time to develop strategies to anticipate to possible effects of climate change, or ¿ put in other words ¿ to assess new investments in spatial development and to investigate how to make them climate proof so they can withstand the effects of climate change. Therefore, key words of the research project are: 'climate change', 'spatial structures', 'changes in spatial structures' and 'Flanders'. The scientific objectives of the research project can be defined as
- a qualitative exploration through research by design of possible planning concepts for a more adaptive approach of changes in spatial structures as a result of climate change;
- a scientific evaluation and appreciation of existing planning policy instruments and public governance mechanisms in relation to the implementation of spatial adaptation strategies in relation to climate change.
In the project design, six major work packages are defined besides the co-ordination of the research project.
1. In the first place, work package 1 will assess the spatial impact of climate change in Flanders for different climate change scenarios. It will geographically differentiate the primary effects (with a focus on the water system) and the secondary effects on different land uses in 2050 and 2100. Next, a spatial adaptation strategy at the macro scale of Flanders will be set out, first in general, later on more in detail with information from the other work packages, in particular from work package 6 that focuses on the meso and micro scale.
2. 2-4. Work packages 2, 3 and 4 will assess, at the same macro scale of Flanders, the geographically differentiated impact of the climate change effects on different spatial (sub)structures: the spatial-natural structure, the landscape structure and the spatial structures of human activities. The common way of thinking in these work packages is first to define a relevant typology of elements of these spatial structures in relation to climate change, next to assess/analyse the sensitivity of these elements for climate change, and finally to develop adaptation strategies mitigating the effects of climate change on these spatial structures.
5. The findings of the first four work packages are gathered in two integrated planning cases in work package 5, one for the coastal zone in Flanders and one for the more land inward region of the Kempen. Through research by design, coherent complexes of spatial planning concepts for the adaptation of spatial structures at meso (regional) and micro (local) level will be defined to tackle the effects of climate change in a sustainable way. The objective at micro level is to design planning concepts for the spatial development of harbours, residential and industrial zones.
6. Finally, work package 6 formulates policy recommendations on spatial adaptation strategies in relation to climate change, in particular at the meso (regional/provincial) and the micro (local) level. The existing institutional context as well as existing spatial adaptation strategies abroad will be analysed. This analysis, together with the findings of the five other work packages, will result in recommendations concerning policy instruments and governance techniques.