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The earth is getting warmer, causing climate change. We are already seeing this in the warmer, drier summers or in the severe storms that flood our streets. Sea levels are also rising due to melting ice caps and there is a real risk that this increase will be faster than was thought a decade ago. The Belgian coast and inland region are very vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. This is due to urbanization, low altitude and how we use this area. More severe storms and rising sea levels are putting increasing pressure on coastal protection. The accessibility of coastal ports is threatened and the inland area is also facing problems. This will make the flow toward the North Sea more difficult and increase the salt content of polder soils.
The Flemish authorities are already working to protect the coasts through the “Coastal Safety Master Plan”, which has been implemented in all coastal communities since 2011 and aims to protect the coastal region until 2050. Recent studies show that sea levels will rise faster and that planned measures will no longer protect the entire coast from flooding after 2050.
That is why government authorities are now working toward a longer-term vision for 2100: the “Complex Coastal Vision Project.” This plan takes into account a sea-level rise of up to 300 cm, whereas the master plan takes into account a rise of only 80 cm. Arcadis and Ecorys have been appointed to develop various scenarios and plan alternatives in which they also study the effects on nature and the environment, as well as the financial consequences. This project will also determine, among other things, where the future coastline will be located, the space required to achieve coastal protection, the type of measures that will achieve this and how win-win situations can be created for the economy (leisure, tourism, blue economy, agriculture, fishing, etc.) and nature.
With the “Complex Coastal Vision Project”, the coast, its people and nature will be protected from marine floods and storms after 2050. New knowledge about climate change and its effects on our planet is acquired every day. Solutions must therefore be able to evolve with the development of knowledge. With this project, Arcadis is creating flexible, adaptive and robust measures to protect against the future consequences of extreme climate change.
From its Ghent office, it is working on this project with a team of engineers, hydrogeologists, ecologists, climatologists, offshore EIA experts, bioengineers, space planners and designers and landscape architects.