The districts of Bospolder and Tussendijken (BoTu) located in the west of Rotterdam city centre, account for more than 14,000 residents. Both districts have a high density of population and a high degree of diversity among their residents, with a prevalence of relatively young people of non-Dutch background. According to the social index in 2018, these districts were considered among the poorest in the Netherlands. To strengthen social cohesion and create economic opportunities, the municipality launched in 2019 the innovative programme “Resilient BoTu 2028”. BoTu has been identified as one of the first districts in becoming net zero by 2030. The programme builds on this commitment and tries to use energy transition as the entry point to achieve transformative change at the district level by enhancing social cohesion and economic prosperity for its residents.

Several interventions and initiatives have already taken place to eliminate the use of natural gas, combat energy poverty and build community. Thanks to ad-hoc capacity-building modules it was possible to train energy coaches and energy ambassadors to spread awareness within the neighbourhood. At the same time, employment 21 opportunities were created by educating people on how to install solar panels and car charging stations. Schools and public areas are being redesigned to be more sustainable and climate-adaptive. Ongoing challenges remain the scaling up of these actions to maximize impact, the retrofitting of the housing stock (which takes time) and how to replicate this model to other neighbourhoods within Rotterdam.

To be achieved through UP2030

Through UP2030, the ambition is to upscale the level of interventions to raise social resilience, energy efficiency and renovation of housing stock, as well as increase the amount of people involved in upskilling within the two districts. Upscaling for BoTu means also to replicate these interventions in other neighbourhoods in Rotterdam (starting in Spangen, in the vicinity of BoTu). This requires developing a blueprint of a “district first” approach towards Net Zero, collecting lessons learned from impact assessments to inform new urban policies, removing barriers and facilitating new mechanisms to start the replication process.

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