Developing an innovative social cost benefit analysis for climate adaptation in Rotterdam

Rebel supported the city of Rotterdam with developing a climate adaptation strategy by carrying out the first social cost benefit analysis (CBA) in the field of climate adaptation. Innovative, complex, strategic – a truly rewarding challenge!

Developing a social CBA for the Rotterdam Climate Adaptation Strategy
Preparing the city for climate change, with a strategic approach and substantiated measures – this is the aim of the Rotterdam Climate Adaptation Strategy. For one part of the strategy, the economic analysis, the city of Rotterdam asked Rebel for support. We conducted the assignment with pleasure together with Royal Haskoning DHV and Deltares, and developed an assessment tool that is based on a social cost benefit analysis – being the first time such a tool and methodology is applied to urban climate adaptation.

The challenge: a flexible and user friendly tool
The assignment involved the development of a tool that could be used to underpin a climate adaptation measure, or a set of them, with an economic analysis. Important requirements were that the tool should be flexible, so that new insights could be embodied, and at the same time be user friendly, so that the city could use the tool independently to compare different adaptation strategies.

The approach: from 200 to 43 measures in five topics
We met this challenge with a coarse-to-fine approach. The first step of the assignment included a rough cost effectiveness study which we used to make a first selection from a set of 200 down to 43 measures for five topics: heat stress, pluvial flooding, drought, fluvial flooding and reachability. In Step 2 we carried out the actual CBA for the chosen 43 measures. We subsequently transferred the economic results to an assessment framework for decision making. Finally, we performed a rough stakeholder analysis in which we analyzed the distribution of costs and benefits among different parties. One outcome of this exercise was a better understanding of why some measures are not implemented although they are economically very attractive.

The first CBA for urban climate adaptation is finalized – and case studies followed
The first CBA for urban climate adaptation had not been finalized completely when follow-up plans were made already: applying the CBA tool and the assessment framework to specific urban areas in Rotterdam. Following that line, we carried out two CBA climate adaptation case studies, one in Kop van Feijenoord (climate challenge: fluvial flooding) and one in Bergpolder Zuid (climate challenges: heat stress, drought, pluvial flooding). Next to generating reports, the tool and presentations, we are proud to state that we have developed the first CBA for urban climate adaptation in the Netherlands and that we have supported the city of Rotterdam in designing the Rotterdam Climate Adaptation Strategy.