BR.20.018 – Drought in the Built Environment

Route: The blue route: water as a pathway to innovation and sustainable growth

Cluster question: 008 How is the climate changing, including extreme weather, and what impact will those changes have?

Drought is the costliest and trickiest of all climate threats for urban environments. Most of the damage comes slowly and hidden. Research questions in disciplinary fields like hydrology of the built environment, urban meteorology, urban soil science, biogeochemistry, geotechnology, foundation technology, public health, plant pathology, spatial planning, economy and governance are to be answered in a coherent way in order to formulate effective action perspectives for problem owners and to make urban environments climate resilient by 2050. Practitioners are struggling with quantifying the problems and formulating solutions. Damage sensitivity of the built environment and society for drought is very substantial, yet hard to quantify. The Netherlands is used to Live with Water but discovered over the past years that this resource is limited, with nasty consequences such as land subsidence, urban heat islands, decay of wooden piles under our historic buildings, the need for (water for) irrigation, serious water quality problems, water supply issues. Moreover, unclear is who is responsible, who should take action, how to prepare for and respond to drought and how to finance this component of climate resilience. The Drought in the Built Environment (DroBE) program is addressing all these questions in an interdisciplinary approach, recognizing its complexity. Fundamental researchers will work with practitioners to create scientific and societal breakthroughs, develop solutions, build capacity and start implementing adaptation measures in practice. Relevant processes will be studied and new solutions will be tested in living labs in urban districts with different conditions in terms of soil, subsurface, land use, vegetation, demographic, social and economic structure. Relevant stakeholders will be invited to participate, as drought is not merely a water management problem. DroBE will contribute to realisation of the Dutch Delta Programme and produce knowledge and innovations applicable in other cities in Europe and beyond.


damage, drought, Governance, soil, spatial planning, subsidence, urban areas

Other organisations

Deltares, Environmental Sciences Group, Fugro, Hanze Hogeschool Groningen, Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management, STOWA, Utrecht University (UU), Wageningen Universities and Research (WUR), Wareco


Organisation TU Delft (TUD)
Name F.H.M. (Frans) van de Ven