Walk down a block in any neighbourhood of Rotterdam and chances are it will look greener than just a few months ago. 'Tiles' (paving) that once lined the front facades of many apartment buildings, homes and offices have been ripped out and replaced with plants, bushes and trees.

It’s a small but notable shift to the streetscape in a country with an affinity for paved gardens. And it’s no coincidence this change came en masse. It was part of a green initiative that channelled an age-old rivalry between two Dutch cities.

In a head-to-head tile-popping competition, the Dutch capital of Amsterdam took on Rotterdam but came up short. Rotterdam defeated its big brother with a whopping 47,942 tiles removed over Amsterdam’s 46,484. As the battle raged, councillors in both cities were briefed daily of the results, and pushed their citizens via social media to pick up the speed. Eva Braaksma, whose organization, Frank Lee, coordinated the event on behalf of several groups said

The rivalry between the two cities is often something negative, but was used in a positive way this time around. 

Practical info from Rotterdam Municipality's guidance on the scheme.  
Read more about positive use of friendly city rivalry, and other Climate Actions in Rotterdam at One Way to Green a City: Knock Out the Tiles