The role of partnerships in 'realising' urban sustainability in Rotterdam's City Ports Area, the Netherlands

Niki Frantzeskaki*, Julia Wittmayer, Derk Loorbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


Port relocation leaves a mark on the city's landscape and history. In Rotterdam, a medium-sized urban delta, the harbour activities are being relocated from close to the city centre to outwards on the sea. This leaves the city with a regeneration challenge accounting for an area of 1600 ha that it is addressed through the drawing up of an ambitious vision. We investigate the partnerships that emerged and contributed by taking up the realisation of the vision. The partnerships further develop and bring to the ground the vision while remaining inspired and driven by sustainability as a guiding and practicing principle. A mapping framework is developed to examine the governance imprint of partnerships along two axes: their impact in terms of synergies and the governance role they adopt. Success factors pertinent to the case include: the sustainability vision created a momentum for action, enjoyed political attention and commitment and was received as a flagship committing different actors to its implementation. Additional factors are the quick reflexes of different agencies to take up action at the aftermath of the vision creation, the local government was open to experiment with new and old arrangements and in this way, it reinvented its role without losing its governing responsibility. In this context, partnerships take up meta-governance roles and coordinate self-organised collaborative governance processes while ensuring synergies and delivering on sustainability ambitions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-417
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Next to the Municipality of Rotterdam and the Port Authorities in their Stadshavens Project Office, there were business partners and societal groups involved. Deltasync (a company of award-winning engineering graduates) and Public Domain Architects (design & implementation) were involved in listing the specifications for the tender for construction companies, which was awarded to Dura Vermeer. Another partner was FlexBase that was responsible for the floating base. In order to accelerate the one year design and building phase, the design partners physically took office in the RDM campus of Hogeschool Rotterdam and Albeda College in City Ports. The latter two were research partners: students of both institutes were involved in design, construction and dealing with sustainability criteria for the Floating Pavilion. The investment for the Floating Pavilion amounted to €5.5 million that was covered by the Municipality of Rotterdam, via its Rotterdam Climate Proof programme (as part of the Rotterdam Climate Initiative) (€5 million), as well as by additional (excessive) funds by the European Regional Development Fund (€0.8 million) and Senter Novem (€0.4 million) ( Gemeente Rotterdam, 2011b ).

Research programs



Dive into the research topics of 'The role of partnerships in 'realising' urban sustainability in Rotterdam's City Ports Area, the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this