Spatial Adaptation for Heat Resilience in Small and Medium Sized Cities in the 2 Seas Region | 2 Mers Seas Zeeën

Cool Towns

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Spatial Adaptation for Heat Resilience in Small and Medium Sized Cities in the 2 Seas Region

Priority Axis

Adaptation to Climate Change

Specific objective

Adaptation to Climate Change

Lead partner

Gemeente Middelburg





Project budget

7 948 972

ERDF amount

4 664 564

ERDF rate



    Common challenge

    Climate change causes warmer summers with more frequent droughts and heat waves. In many small and medium sized cities of the 2 Seas area, these higher temperatures have a negative impact on public health, productivity, wellbeing, air and water quality and other urban systems. We call these impacts Heat Stress. The need for spatial heat stress adaptation is clear. But to improve their heat resilience, cities still lack essential knowledge and tools for:

    • setting heat resilience objectives (existing and desired heat situation) and making investment decisions (where, which measures)
    • effective heat adaptation measures with co-benefits for other urban needs (e.g. air quality, flood prevention)
    • integrating heat resilience in broader climate adaptation and spatial development strategies
    • build capacity and sense of urgency for heat resilient design among urban planners, (landscape) architects, builders and building/home owners.

    Main Achievements

    Climate change causes warmer summers with more frequent occurrence of heat waves. In many small and medium-sized cities, this causes heat stress and has an impact on public health, productivity and well-being. Cool Towns is a collaboration between 13 partners – cities, academia and companies - to reduce heat stress in cities. The partners work on solutions at street level to combat heat effectively. The project runs from 9/2018 – 9/2022 with support from the EU program Interreg 2 Seas. 

    To map the extent of heat stress in our cities and the impact of various intervention scenarios, the partners have developed a heat stress model and created heat stress maps for our partner cities. In the next phase of the project, the model will be further developed to include spatial information on vulnerable groups and functions to further improve heat resilience planning in cities.

    To gain insight into the current thermal comfort of our cities during summer days, the academic partners drew up a measurement protocol.Based on this, the cities Ostend (BE), Breda (NL), Middelburg (NL) and the province of East Flanders (BE) took measurements in the hot summer of 2019 and interviewed the users of the pilot sites. The first round of measurements also served to test the heat stress model and provide the decision-making tool with practical information. 

    In the next phase of Cool Towns, the partners will develop an online decision tool for municipalities and cities, which incorporates various measures for heat resistance with essential decision parameters (such as the extent of heat stress reduction and costs and resources). To generate input for this tool, heat stress workshops were held in Saint-Omer (FR), Breda (NL), Ostend (BE), East Flanders (BE) and Middelburg (NL) during the summer of 2019.

    An important part of Cool Towns is the realization of 7 pilots in the participating cities. The aim of these pilot is to demonstrate a variety of measures to reduce heat stress in public spaces The Cool Towns partners are investigating which combinations of measures and locations in their municipality / province can be used as a pilot. For example, in Ostend (BE) the plan is to transform a parking space into a cool, green oasis in the city center and Breda (NL) wants to realize a water playground to cool their city center. In East Flanders (BE) efforts are being made to make schoolyards greener and Middelburg (NL) will make the area surrounding the station greener and cooler.   



    Gemeente Breda

    Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen

    Stad Oostende

    Southend on Sea Borough Council (SBC)

    University of Greenwich

    Kent County Council

    Université Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV)

    GreenBlue Urban

    AUD Agence d'Urbanisme et de Développement de la Région de Saint-Omer et Flandre Interieure

    Hogeschool van Amsterdam

    Sioen Industries

    Communauté d’agglomération du Pays de Saint Omer