Involving Stakeholders from the Zemgale region in Climate Change Adaptation Planning in Latvia

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The IMPETUS project continues to provide a regional perspective to Climate Change adaptation planning in a systemic implementation approach by analysing challenges and solutions for municipalities and sectors in Zemgale Region. Co-creation with stakeholders from an early stage of planning is crucial to achieve acceptance of measures.

About Zemgale Region

Covering 16.6% of Latvia’s territory, the Zemgale Region is centrally located within the country and comprises five municipalities

Administrative division of Zemgale Region

The lowland landscape of the Zemgale Region is characterized by flat terrain and a dense river network, presenting a high risk of flooding from various sources such as snowmelts, heavy precipitation, and hydrotechnical infrastructure. Flood events pose significant risks to society, settlements, and infrastructure due to the rapid rise in water levels.

The region’s fertile soils have facilitated the development of intensive agriculture, with large-scale farming occupying approximately 40% of the area. Agricultural activities predominantly focus on crop cultivation, leading to a reduction in meadows and pastures over the past decade, thereby exerting pressure on grassland habitats and biodiversity.

Engaging Stakeholders through Co-Creation

A diverse array of stakeholders from the national, regional, and local levels actively participate in stakeholder workshops organized under the IMPETUS project. Various methodologies are employed to ensure the inclusion of all stakeholders’ voices and foster interaction among participants.

During the initial brainstorming phase, stakeholders engaged in an online collaborative whiteboarding session using the Miro platform. This allowed participants to generate and categorize ideas using digital sticky notes, identifying the needs for enhancing climate resilience in both the public and private sectors within the region. Additionally, an asynchronous survey tool, Mentimeter, facilitated real-time feedback from participants on the desired societal and business impacts of climate change adaptation activities.

In face-to-face meetings, paper sticky notes were utilized to enable participants to highlight key areas and suggest actionable directions for climate change adaptation. Stakeholders then employed sticky dots (votes) to prioritize climate change impacts on various sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, infrastructure, and public health, as well as the capacity of municipalities to enhance resilience.

Small group discussions, structured in progressive conversational “rounds” akin to the World Café setting, were conducted to identify strategic, practical, and informative measures that municipalities could implement to mitigate the impacts of extreme temperatures, precipitation, and wind resulting from climate change.

Towards validation of planned adaptation measures

The application of diverse stakeholder engagement methods has ensured sustained interest and active participation in collective visioning and priority setting for the Zemgale Regional Climate Change Adaptation Plan. Further participatory stakeholder involvement is planned to validate adaptation measures, focusing on flood prevention and emerging challenges such as extreme winds, heat waves, and local droughts. Discussions on priority areas and activities will continue on May 28, 2024.


High temperatures

Record-breaking summertime temperatures have been recorded in the Netherlands in recent years. With global temperatures rising, such extreme weather events will occur more often, and for longer periods. Prolonged high temperatures, with warm nights as well as hot days, can cause heat stress* and related health issues, particularly among city populations.

*Heat stress occurs when the human body cannot get rid of excess heat and can impact wellbeing through conditions such as heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps and rashes.

"We want to enable municipality decision makers who are working on spatial developments to identify heat stress 'hot spots' and cool areas, analyse the future effects of climate change, and model the effect of different heat stress-reducing measures. The tool must provide them with an easy starting point to integrate heat stress risks in their projects."


Despite the cooling effect of the sea in the region of Zeeland, the growing risk of heat stress has become a concern.

Elderly and other vulnerable people are more impacted by the effects of prolonged heat, which can cause headaches, dizziness, insomnia and other health issues – even death. Excess temperatures also affect general comfort and liveability of cities. Water quality can be reduced, both for drinking and swimming, and infrastructure can be affected. Buildings and concrete surfaces trap heat, potentially leading to damage, and release it during the night, keeping temperatures warm.

During heat waves, it is important that everyone has access to a cool and comfortable place. Appropriate spatial planning can help to decrease and deal with heat stress. Environmental factors like water bodies, trees, and shade have a major impact on stress caused by high temperatures. Therefore, planting trees, removing concrete surfaces, creating green roofs and cool spaces can improve our comfort and health. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for city planning to address these needs.


Flood risk

By 2050, sea-level within this region is predicted to rise by 15-40 cm, with more frequent extreme weather and more (severe) storms triggered by climate change. These changes will exacerbate the natural risk of flooding in the IMPETUS ‘Atlantic’ region, because it is surrounded by rivers and the sea, and is below sea level.

*Risk takes into account two aspects; the chance that an event will occur and the negative impact of such an event once it occurs. When there is a low chance that an event will occur, but its impacts are huge, the risk is still significant.

“In the Netherlands, an extensive system of dikes protects us against sea and river flooding. We have always put our faith in this defence and focused almost solely on flood prevention. However, pressure on our system will increase with climate change and rising sea levels. To adapt and maintain a safe living environment, we should develop other safety measures, like more robust spatial planning and contingency plans."


Rotterdam city, is located in Rijnmond – ‘mouth of the Rhine’. The Rhine river flows through this densely populated area and characterises the region. Protections such as sea dikes and storm surge barriers have been constructed to protect the region, but flooding still occurs.

People living in the city are accustomed to seeing smaller floods. The changing climate affects the interplay between rainfall, river levels and sea storms, increasing the flooding risk. Water levels could rise by a few metres, even in populated areas, with potentially massive impacts. 

Mitigation measures such as storm surge barriers reduce the chance that high water reaches the city, but to minimise the impact of floods when they do occur, adaptation strategies are also needed. A city that can adapt to be safe from floods must be carefully designed. How best to design such an adaptive city?

Critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and evacuation routes, must be accessible at all times. Planning how to best protect them, homes and lives is complex. Flood water behaves in a complex way and flood risks show strong spatial variations. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for adaptive city planning. 


Energy and waste water

To become climate-neutral by 2050, climate mitigation* efforts are crucial in our strategy for how to deal with climate change. Reducing our energy consumption is a significant mitigation step. In the Netherlands, 15% of energy is consumed in the Rijnmond area around the port of Rotterdam, in large part by a major petrochemical industry cluster.

*Climate mitigation encompasses measures such as technologies, processes, or practices that reduce carbon emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.


The Rotterdam port petrochemical industry cluster is Europe’s largest. It consumes 70% of the Rijnmond region’s energy. A large part of this energy is wasted (64%, 203 petajoules). More than half of that energy is lost with wastewater. In addition, most energy processes within these industries rely on fossil fuels, which has a significant impact on the climate.

Energy use must be minimised and fossil fuels should be replaced by renewable sources if climate change is to be mitigated. Electrification of processes opens up the possibility to use more renewable energy and can greatly impact decarbonisation. Recovering wasted heat would significantly reduce energy consumption and is a first step towards a more circular industry. 

Supporting industries in a transition towards climate-neutrality depends on identifying how best to reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing production or performance. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is creating a digital tool that supports decision making about pathways towards an effective energy transition for EU industry.