Future Proof Region and Brewery Chain

The Green Circles initiative aims to develop a future proof region with a sustainable economic growth and healthy living environment.

The partners have their own ambitions and the initiative seeks to integrate these. Heineken brewery has the ambition to become climate neutral and climate proof. The initiative seeks opportunities to use landscape and ecosystem services.

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Case Study Description
Data Description
Reference information

Water-management issue to be addressed

The current drinking water supply in the Randstad region is dependent on river water. Climate change could threaten the water supply, as periods with extremely low discharges may occur more frequently in future. Drainage of surrounding agricultural land will further increase soil subsidence. This will have a negative impact on water quality and loss of biodiversity. The green circle case study seeks innovative solutions and will address these in an integrated, holistic way. Sustainable development and business development will go hand in hand.

Stakeholders involved in the Green Circles initiative are the HEINEKEN brewery, Dunea (drinking water company), the Province of South Holland, The water authority and Alterra. Heineken's production process depends on the supply of drinking water because it is used to produce brewing water. Green Circless will work with water chain partners to utilise water flows more efficiently.

Decision support to client

The ambition of the Green Circles initiative is supported by offering support to planned workshops. SWICCA will offer tools to visualize climate projections to make visible to the stakeholders how the area may develop under climate change. We will seek to map future climate and future land use scenario’s. By combining both, we create ’possible futures’. These will be used as a background against which opportunities will be identified to to create an economically powerful business in an attractive environment offering positive living, working, recreation, and business opportunities. We aim to use Touch Table technology to visualize the scenarios.

Temporal and spatial Scale

The Green Circles initiative focuses on the Zoeterwoude greater area, located within the Randstad. The initiative looks at the full production chain and therefore the area is not limited to the location of the brewery only. Water is being infiltrated in the sand dune area along the coast and transported to the area. The area represents the low lying part of the province of south Holland. The polders in the area are among the deepest in the country.

Knowledge Brokering

A first workshop was held where all stakeholder formulated their dreams by asking: what do I want, why do I want that, what is the reason behind that, and so on. This resulted in the underlying objectives and those often reveal similarities between the different parties. The workshop approach is a technique to stimulate collaboration and to create a joint ambition. It also sets stakeholders in a positive frame of mind.
Next, we gathered relevant climate impact information from C3S and from other national sources. A summary of the key indicators was prepared. All information was visualized in an attractive ’story map’ in collaboration with CAS (Climate Adaptation Services). We presented the Story Map to the region during the stakeholder workshop on 28 September 2016. A second stakeholder workshop was organized on 24 January 2017. In groups we discussed how the ’dreams’ that were identified during the earlier workshop are potentially being influenced by climate change under the various scenarios (expressed in the story maps). The focus of the workshop was to establish a joint ambition. Concrete ideas came out, such as a water storage facility that uses the roof area of the various buildings from the industrial zone. Ambassadors to carry the ideas forward were nominated.

Climate Impact Indicators

Pan-European Indicators

Key indicators are soil subsidence, salinization, sustainable transport system, biodiversity and availability of sufficient clean drinking water in the future. A number of indicators that have a relation with climate change are relevant for the case study:

  1. Drinking water production for the brewery.
  2. Clean and healthy water in the surrounding area.
  3. Biodiversity (wetlands and extensive agricultural areas or meadow lands).
  4. Reducing the rate of soil subsidence.
  5. Sustainable transport (via water).

Climate change will have an impact on these water topics. Possibly, the low water discharge extremes will become an important indicator. However, these low flows are available through the Dutch Delta Programme. This data was based on climate scenarios that were released in 2006. We will analyse to what extent the more recent climate information coming from the SWICCA partners will lead to new insights.

Local indicators

Impacts on water quality and biodiversity will be quite difficult to establish. This requires modeling of nutrient inputs, but also the understanding of complex relations between internal and external eutrophication (phophorous and sulphate which is determined by the inlet of water from other sources, the rate of peat oxidation) (peat soils as dominant soil type in region).

Pan-European data to local scale

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Step 1: Development of a joint ambition for the region and the stakeholders (the brewery, the province, the drinking water companies, water authority). A workshop was held where all stakeholder formulated their dreams by asking: what do I want, why do I want that, what is the reason behind that, and so on. This resulted in the underlying objectives and those often reveal similarities between the different parties. The workshop approach is a technique to stimulate collaboration and to create a joint ambition. It also sets stakeholders in a positive frame of mind.

Step 2: In the Netherlands we have an authorized set of scenarios prepared by our met office (KNMI), which contain ensembles of downscaled regional climate models. We will collect existing climate data from the Dutch met office (KMNI scenarios 2014). A summary of the key indicators (max hourly rainfall; dry days, summer rainfall) will be prepared.

Step 3: Analysis of the key climate variables from the SWICCA Climate Impact Indicators. We will perform a comparison of the SWICCA indicators and the indicators from the KNMI scenario’s to identify possible differences or consistencies in the crucial climate indicators (like tropical days, consecutive dry days, summer rainfall and river discharges).

Step 4: Development of visualizations of future scenarios in an attractive ’story maps’. In our experience the stakeholders do not have the time and interest to read technical reports and model outputs. So we will develop story maps. These summarize the key issues in sets of GIS maps and artist impressions.

Step 5: Workshop with the stakeholders to analyse the ’dreams’ that were produced under the various scenarios (expressed in the story maps). The approach deliberately avoids ‘solving problems’. We focus on establishing a joint ambition. The realization of the ambition will take many years, during which climate change will take effect. How can we take that into account and what can each of the parties involved do to realize the ambition under a changing climate? We use climate change to design a robust pathway to realize the ambitions.

Lessons learnt

We learnt so far that the stakeholders in the Groene Circles initiative are triggered by opportunities and value creation rather than by threats and risks associated with climate change. There is a real need to better visualize climate change impacts in such a way that a connection can be made with the ambitions of the client. We developed a visually attractive story map to visualize the future scenarios. The SWICCA Copernicus project contributed to raising awareness and a sense of urgency to take climate change into account. The stakeholders in the Green Circles initiative, with Heineken as a key partner, have expressed their intentions to develop adaptation options and measures. Participants of both workshops expressed their appreciations on the in the climate visualizations which improved insight in local site specific consequences. We learnt that the SWICCA indicators need to be translated (interpreted) to add meaning at local level. Therefore there is always a need for local tailoring and and decision support.

Importance and Relevance of Adaptation

The stakeholders in the Green Circles initiative are interested in climate change information. Particularly they are interested in visualizations, and improved insight in local site specific consequences. The SWICCA project has contributed to the development story maps, to translate the indicators to site specific consequences. Wageningen Environmental Reserach organized workshops within the context of the SWICCA project. Together with the local stakeholders we discussed potential site specific effects of the indicators. We involved a landscape architect to facilitate the workshop and to translate ideas into designs for the area. We learnt that the SWICCA indicators need to be translated to implications at local level. The stakeholders involved appreciated the complete overview, covering the local and European perspective. The results will be integrated in the report and highlights will be included in the story map of the Province of South Holland.
“Copernicus provides a means for us to understand the potential impact of climate change and take measures to protect our valuable resources,” commented Jan Kempers, Sustainable Development Manager at Heineken Netherlands Supply.

Pros and Cons or Cost-Benefit analysis of climate adaptation

The general positive remarks about the SWICCA indicators was that they offer a European perspective. The local data from the climate atlas are limited to the Dutch situation. Water availability for drinking water and industrial water use depends on water flow in the catchment of the Meusse. The SWICCA indicators were used to analyze water flows during the summer period. Moreover, the EU perspective is also very relevant for the agriculture and also for the tourism sector. Some negative remarks on the SWICCA indicators were that they seem too general and not detailed enough to support local decision making processes. The Dutch climate scenario’s show more detail and have been approved by policy makers. The regional climate atlas has also a more detailed scope than the SWICCA service can provide. Alterra has included all indicators in a powerpoint presentation that was discussed during the stakeholder meeting. Alterra also produced a map that summarizes all climate impacts for the region. A report was submitted to the regional water authority. The key results of the workshop have been integrated in a regional ‘story map’ for the province South Holland. The report (in Dutch) gives an overview of:

  • climate change across Europe, showing the changes on the key water indicators from SWICCA. This map should give insight in the major changes across Europe
  • Maps of local climate impacts for the province of South Holland, showing how floods and drought risks and heat stress will have an impact in the region. This will be based on the national climate scenarios and data from the climate atlas for the Netherlands (and not the SWICCA indicators)
  • A local summary map of the case study area.

Policy aspects 

The province of South Holland adopted a regional adaptation strategy. The province strives for more self sufficiency in water use because water availability can not always be guaranteed. Also the adaptation strategy addresses the importance of bringing soil subsidence to a halt.



Eveliene.Steingrover‹at›wur.nl (contact Groene Cirkel)
Paul.Opdam‹at›wur.nl     (contact Groene Cirkel – water domain)



Relevant EU policy


Purveyor: Hasse Goosen


Value added by Copernicus Climate Change Service: 

Workshop outcomes (in Dutch)


Eveliene.Steingrover<a>wur.nl (contact Groene Cirkel)
Paul.Opdam<a>wur.nl     (contact Groene Cirkel – water domain)



Poster: The Green Circles Initiative and Brewing a Better Future