Climate-positive design is good for everyone

In the ‘Climate-positive marine developments’ white paper, Deltares calls for marine developments to be designed in a climate-positive way in order to actively boost biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions in projects.

Marine ecosystems throughout the world are under pressure from human interventions and climate change. Extensions of ports or the construction of islands are inflicting additional damage on already weakened ecosystems.

In order to reverse this trend, Deltares has acquired a lot of knowledge in recent years about topics such as ‘Building with nature’ and ‘climate-neutral building’. The ‘Climate-positive marine developments’ white paper goes a step further in the area of sustainable building. “A climate-positive design means that in conceptual terms, in other words from the outset, you go about building in such a way that it results in more biodiversity and nature than was previously present in the locality,” says Robin Morelissen who wrote the white paper with Ellis Penning.

Mineral olivine

Climate-positive design can be a solution for the development of new infrastructure such as the construction/expansion of a port or the development of an artificial island. “But other examples are coastal projects that require thorough renovation after a period of many years,” says Morelissen, who is an expert on coastal hydrodynamics.

By combining multiple functions and objectives in the design, you tackle all the challenges. For instance by designing desalination infrastructure that contributes to coral recovery or creates a new habitat for marine life. “And combine that with a research centre to develop and share knowledge so that you can install coral gardens in other locations. Another possibility is the combination of floating solar panels with aquaculture for the energy supply.” The white paper also discusses using olivine, a mineral that can absorb CO2. “You can include it in building materials.”

Infrastructure as a basis for natural habitat development

“A climate positive design means that conceptually, that is from the beginning, you're going to build in such a way that it provides more biodiversity and nature."

Robin Morelissen - Coastal expert

Conceptual ideas for climate-positive development of an (artificial) island compared to the traditional approach

Partnerships for better biodiversity and climate 

Government authorities, industry, NGOs and knowledge institutes must join forces to introduce climate-positive design on marine development projects. Deltares is eager to play a central coordinating role here. “We have all the required disciplines in our organisation: from ecologists to knowledge about project financing. We also work with start-ups that develop artificial reefs as a form of coastal protection. And we can try out pilot projects in our testing facilities.” So Morelissen is inviting everyone to read the white paper. “Where possible, we provide support and collaborate on the initiation and scaling up of climate-positive developments. That delivers better biodiversity, a better living environment and climate resilience, and that is good for everyone.”

Deltares, together with other organizations, organized an inspiring event on climate-positive design at the World EXPO2020 in Dubai in the sustainable NL Pavilion.