June 9, 2022
Yara Bakker

Cities and sustainability: Rotterdam (pt. 2)

All cities have their own approach to sustainability. In this blog, we discuss Rotterdam’s vision for the future in terms of the last 8 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and how the municipality tries to achieve its goals.

If we as a country want to take significant steps in the right direction to combat the climate crisis, every municipality will have to contribute.

In this article, you can read how the municipality of Rotterdam views the different dimensions of sustainability (social, ecological and economical), and what plans there are in place to make Rotterdam more sustainable. The municipality's approach will be discussed in relation to the last 8 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • Goal 10 and 5: Reduced inequalities and gender equality
  • Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
  • Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
  • Goal 13: Climate action
  • Goal 14 and 15: Life on land and life below water
  • Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

The vision of Rotterdam

We will tell you more about Rotterdam’s vision on sustainability in relation to each of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Goal 10 and goal 5: Reduced inequalities and gender equality

The municipality of Rotterdam attaches great importance to values such as freedom and equality. Every Rotterdammer must be able to be self-reliant and be an active part of society.

  • Age groups

The program “Rotterdam, Ouder en Wijzer” has been set up to support the elderly in the municipality. Attention is paid to the pillars of vitality, to matter, living & living environment and care & support. The ultimate goal is that the elderly remain healthy and vital for as long as possible, can continue to participate in society and receive the right care. There is also a separate policy for young people. The focus here is on offering a promising and healthy environment to grow up in, in which problems such as crime and school dropout are combated.

  • Diversity

The diversity and acceptance of it within the municipality is stimulated by the action program ‘Relax. This is Rotterdam.” There is also looked at improving the integration of newcomers on the basis of the themes housing, care, learning, language, training and work. The ultimate goal is a fully-fledged and active position within Rotterdam society.

Equality sign

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

The municipality of Rotterdam would like to offer a green, healthy and sustainable living environment to all residents. A more attractive working and living environment is achieved by making the public spaces greener, so that they can serve as inviting meeting places and opportunities for sports and recreation.

On the website you will find an extensive list of all activities that are currently being worked on. Some examples are:

  • A sports program in which residents are inspired to cycle more often.
  • Investments in making the city greener through green-blue schoolyards, multifunctional roofs and the creation of green oases in the city center.
  • Improving air quality and reducing noise pollution
  • In the ‘Rotterdams Weerword’ programme, the municipality is taking on the challenge together with residents of Rotterdam to prepare the city for climate change, for example by improving the water system.


Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

The municipality is working on the transition to a new digital and circular economy in which there is made use of sustainably generated energy.

Five transition paths have been outlined for this, namely: digitization, energy transition, circular economy, education and inclusive society. The precise measures that will be taken to make this transition are discussed in the Rotterdam 2019 – 2023 circular program (“Van Zooi naar Mooi”).

A main goal is to realise a city without waste by 2050. For this, raw material flows must be better processed and the production of buildings, streets and products will be adapted so that valuable materials are being made optimal use of.

Finally, the Consumption climate table focuses on making the supply of consumption, such as the food supply, more sustainable. This is not without success: the climate deal ‘Rotterdam against food waste’ has already resulted in a saving of 62,000 kilos of food waste.


Goal 13: Climate action

Based on the climate ambitions of the Paris Agreement, the Municipality of Rotterdam has drawn up three ambitious goals:

  • Bringing annual CO2 emissions to a declining trend in 2022
  • Reducing CO2 emissions by 49% compared to 1990 in 2030
  • Be climate neutral in 2050

When these objectives are achieved, the air quality, health and the quality of the residential climate in Rotterdam will also be addressed in addition to fighting climate change.

For the successful implementation of these plans, the municipality is working together with companies, institutions and experts in the Rotterdam Climate Agreement. Agreements are made in five areas: clean energy, harbour and industry, mobility, built environment and consumption. For example, Rotterdam tries to ensure that all buildings use – or even produce – clean energy by 2050.

In addition, scientific research is conducted on the CO2 emissions in all links of the chain. The municipality also cooperates with citizens and (small) entrepreneurs. For example, there is an Energy Transition Fund for these parties, energy coaches are available and there are vouchers for sustainability interventions.

Climate Change

Goal 14 and 15: Life on land and life below water

The Marine Litter Strategy was drawn up to make and keep Rotterdam’s waters cleaner. The main goal here is to stop contributing to the plastic soup in the North Sea by 2050, thereby contributing to more biodiversity. To achieve this goal, the Port Authority and Rijkswaterstaat are working together.

The municipality also participates in the international Urban Ocean program, which aims to reduce plastic in the environment by raising awareness about recycling among the population.

Moreover, in the ongoing effort to make the living environment of Rotterdammers greener, attention is paid to protecting, restoring and promoting the sustainable use of urban ecosystems and biodiversity, and the municipality is additionally working on establishing food forests.

Rotterdam skyline

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

In order to offer a safe living environment, residents, entrepreneurs and organizations within the municipality are being involved in the policy and its implementation. A safe environment for living and going out is achieved through consultation, participation and co-creation with the aforementioned parties, whereby the government maintains the legal order and public order as well as possible. The goal is that Rotterdam residents will experience less nuisance due to crime and that all children can grow up safely in the municipality.

Appropriate solutions for each area are also being looked at in order to respond to local needs. This is reflected in the establishment of 39 neighborhood councils with elected representatives in the “Wijk aan Zet” program. For example, agreements are made about organizing the participation in the neighborhood and a neighborhood plan with a long-term vision as well as the associated short-term actions are drawn up. In addition, from this year onwards, residents will have a voice in which initiatives will be invested in their neighborhood via the MijnRotterdam participation platform.

Lastly, the municipality tries to make the elections as accessible as possible (by means of clear language, icons and the careful distribution of the necessary information). The safety of the voter is guaranteed by supervision in the polling stations.


Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

National and international partnerships are in place to make all the aforementioned plans a success. The existing policies were drawn up together with all kinds of companies, organisations, care providers and other relevant parties. Deals are concluded with all partners that are affected in various agreements, such as the Rotterdam Climate Agreement. There is also cooperation at regional level, for example in the fields of health (with the GGD Rotterdam Rijnmond) and youth (youth aid Rotterdam Rijnmond). As an international port city, Rotterdam has good relations with international parties, such as the European Union.


Curious about the approach of the municipality with regard to the other SDGs?
Then be sure to also read last week’s blog!

Source: Municipal Budget 2022 – Sustainable development goals; link