Since the turn of the century, an increasing number of local and regional authorities in Europe started making their city or region resilient to climate change, or 'climate-proof'. Publications about the actual experiences with implementing these adaptation policies are as yet anecdotal, determined by the local context and the methods applied. In order to identify common processes and characteristics, moving beyond individual cases, this paper systematically assesses 100 spatial planning and water management projects in the Netherlands that included climate resilience as one of their objectives. We derive eight defining characteristics that not only increase climate resilience, but are also found to lead to a greater 'quality' of the project area. We structure these properties into a stylized sequence: (i) a longer timeframe, (ii) an integrative and sustainable approach, (iii) consideration of new spatial functions, (iv) a broader spatial context, (v) participation of multiple stakeholders, (vi) new opportunities for entrepreneurs, (vii) increased cost-effectiveness, and (viii) enhanced quality of the project area. The assessment also suggests four process-related conditions that contribute to the success of a project: early incorporation of adaptation; multi-actor collaboration and co-creation of knowledge; integrated, multifunctional and forward-looking solutions; and early political commitment. © 2013 © 2013 Taylor & Francis.