Antwerp - Department for Urban Development
The city of Antwerp is the largest city of Flanders, the Flemish or Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Flanders counts 13 so-called ‘central cities’, i.e. cities that perform a central function vis-à-vis their environment. In January 2015, the population of Antwerp totalled 516,009 inhabitants, which represent around 8% of the total Flemish population. Antwerp city is divided into 9 entities (districts) and total area is 204.51 km2 with population density of 2,759 inhabitants per km2.
The mission of the department for urban development is to promote the sustainable development of the city. In ‘climate plan 2011 – Covenant of Mayors’, the city of Antwerp spells out the ambition to reduce carbon dioxide emissions on the city’s territory with 20% by 2020, and to become fully carbon neutral by 2050. In 2014 the Covenant of Mayors Adapt was signed. Hereby, the city commits to elaborate an local adaptation strategy and to integrate adapation measures in urban projects and spatial policy intrumtents. In 2015 an update of the Climate Plan 2015-2020 was done, including the guidelines of the adaptation strategy. The policy document ‘Antwerp is a Sustainable City’ captures specific goals of the city for variety of environmental themes including water, green, sustainable use of materials, energy, soil, noise and air pollution. Also, city has launched ‘Green Plan’ in year 2013.
The city’s Ecohouse – operating as a demonstration and visitors centre – has the mandate to inform and advise citizens on how to build/renovate and live in a sustainable and energy-efficient way. In the operations of the Ecohouse, geo-information and applications/services have an important role to play, as they have the capacity to inform public authorities and their citizens about the (state of affairs of the) urban climate, air quality, and energy efficiency.
But also within the administration of urban planning, geo-information has an important role to tackle environmental related challenges, such as climate mitigation and adaptation, and to pinpoint the ambitions towards sustainability, right from the beginning in the project development process. For example, in order to design the sustainable energy landscape in future urban development projects, heat and energy potential maps were published to optimize district heating solutions and create interesting synergies between the local development projects and the existing nearby situation. In the same way, the urban heat-island maps, that the city of Antwerp recently elaborated, are consulted by the ‘Green Plan’ and the local development plans, when it comes to setting minimal standards for green open areas in the project definition.
The city of Antwerp also develops an open data policy and has the intention to publish geo-data of environmental and climate related issues, such as air and noise pollution maps, UHI-maps and wind-maps on an online geo-portal. In this way, the administration stimulates the rise of awareness, participation and co-creation among public and private stakeholders and the inhabitants. For instance, in order to be able to meet the climate goals of the Climate Plan, the city set up a platform www.stadslab2050.be, to promote concrete public and private actions. Open data can be useful in the definition of those concrete climate initiatives. But also in more traditional urban planning processes, such as the delivery of building permits, open data can be useful. Architects and private developers yet can access information on urban climate, and have to show in high rise projects on vulnerable locations, what the effect of their buildings is on the urban climate (wind, light, etc), and how they deal with certain problems as air and noise pollution.