Piet Dircke is the Arcadis Global Leader for Resilience and Water Management and AIWW PAC member. He has 34 years of working experience on five continents in water management, city resiliency, coastal flood protection, urban waterfront development and climate change adaptation.
Q: What are some of the main challenges cities of all sizes face in addressing resilience?
“While many decision makers understand the need to make their assets and cities more resilient, they also struggle to identify concrete steps they can take to do so. In order to get started, they require answers to important questions.”
“These include where and when they should invest in resilience, and where resilience investments can add the most value. Also, how can they reap both short and long-term benefits, and how can they move from risk identification to starting actionable projects.”
“But perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned in my professional life is that true resilience comes from connecting the dots in urban environments. The main challenge is to look at a city from a holistic perspective and enhance the resilience of the city, instead of focusing on small-scale actors or industries and merely providing a multitude of protections at their perimeters.”
Q: As a global business, how do you respond to the variation in circumstances for cities around the world, and the development of their individual solutions?
“At Arcadis, we believe it’s important to encourage cities and industries to think differently about traditional return on investment. Doing so typically lights a path to a compelling business case for resilience. And by going one step further and reframing it within the context of delivering efficiencies – through collaboration – the discussion moves into an even more positive framework, where opportunities to create competitive advantages can be identified. Each city therefore becomes a unique challenge for us as a global business, both applying our knowledge from global best practices and taking the local circumstances into the business case.”
Q: How important is it for cities to have ownership of their solutions, and what can be done to support that?
“As being a resilient city can create a competitive advantage over cities that are not resilient, it is in a city’s own interest to have ownership of its own solutions. Creating a business case for a city can support the process of becoming a resilient city and show the benefits that being resilient holds.”