#Henri Cormont Delegation from Zimbabwe visiting the Overdiepse Polder
Room for the River
Making room for the Dutch approach On the international stage the Dutch are seen as pioneers when it comes to water-related innovation and technology. Room for the River evidences the Netherlands’ advancement in its water management role. The new approach to flood protection – and the practical experience gained – are creating major interest abroad.
‘Foreign delegations are particularly interested in the early involvement of local residents in the planning process’ The Dutch water sector Strong and competitive Water projects and delta technology represent a valuable world market. Room for the River is encouraging this growth, with export growing year upon year. • To reinforce and further expand this position, the Netherlands government set up a special Topteam Water, underlining our water credentials and sharing expertise globally. The effect of the Topteam is to bolster the status of Dutch international players in the water sector. Room for the River’s Dutch approach is a contributing factor in this regard.
• Room for the River’s track record in sustainably configuring river regions is a notable international attention-grabber. The programme’s combination of safety with spatial planning quality reflects demand for integrated solutions. • The global market for safe deltas is estimated at more than € 100 billion per annum. In particular, it is the distinctive experience in ‘Building with Nature’ that puts the Dutch in a strong competitive position. • The Netherlands is famous for being the best-protected delta in the world. By 2050, delta living will encompass 70% of the world’s population. The Netherlands would like to serve as a model for threatened delta areas throughout the world. • In 2013, Dutch water sector export grew 4.2% (from 7.1 to 7.4 billion Euros). The majority of companies are also positive about 2014. Asia is one of the most promising regions. • Major projects in which Dutch knowledge on water is playing a role include a master plan to keep New York City dry and a coastal replenishment project in Jakarta. • Well-known Dutch companies operating throughout the world include dredging firms Van Oord and Boskalis (famous for the Palm Islands in Dubai) and engineering firm Arcadis (involved in coastal defence works in New Orleans and New York). • The Dutch Approach is gaining ground outside the European Union. In 2011, the urban island to be built on the River Waal in Nijmegen (part of Room for the River) received the International Waterfront Center Award (NY) for the innovative combination of flood protection and regional development.
ROOM FOR THE RIVER | MAKING ROOM FOR THE DUTCH APPROACH
International cooperation Contributing and accessing knowledge In the international context Room for the River is engaged in collaborative efforts geared towards the mutual sharing of knowledge. The knowledge and experience that the Netherlands is acquiring through the programme has the capacity to help other countries to cope with flooding. Conversely, the Netherlands is keen to learn from other countries as well.
‘The Dutch Approach is steadily gaining ground outside the European Union’ • European cities like Dublin, Nijmegen and Paris share information for better flood protection within the FRC project (FloodResilienCity). • European administrators of washlands (including Overdiepse Polder and Water Friendly Farm Natuurderij Keizersrande in Deventer) share knowledge and experience within the ALFA project (Adaptive Land Use for Flood Alleviation). • The Netherlands also works with neighbouring countries with shared rivers and catchment areas. An example of this is the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine within the compass of which Room for the River is harmonizing measures with Germany. • The Netherlands has contacts with China and the USA –sharing knowledge with regard to ways of managing the river region and flood protection. • There is an intensive process of knowledge sharing in place with five delta nations – Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt and Mozambique. Room for the River is called in for its expertise – indeed Vietnam is modifying parts of the Mekong delta with elements from the programme. • The Netherlands is learning how to deal with disaster management from countries such as the United States and Germany. Moreover, it is learning, for instance, how the United States is fostering the capacity of citizens to cope in the event of flooding.
• Room for the River welcomes more than 10 international delegations every year. High on the ‘must see’ list are the depoldering activities at Overdiep and the Noordwaard and the Nijmegen/Lent project. Visitors’ priorities include the early involvement of the locals in the planning process and the impact of depoldering on residents. • Other countries are often surprised about our high levels of flood protection. Our river levels have to be able to withstand floods of a frequency of 1:1250 years. In our coastal regions, the level is 1:10,000. In comparison, in Louisiana (USA) they are working towards a level of 1:1000. Our high protection levels are necessary because most of our country lies under sea level and our population density is very high. In case of flooding, the consequences in terms of victims and economical damage would be enormous. • Room for the River and the Dutch approach have often hit the headlines throughout the world – including in the UK, USA, China, Germany and France. • The high water experienced in Great Britain (at the start of 2014) generated a great deal of media interest. The Guardian, for example, featured the article ‘Taming the floods, Dutch-style: What Britain can learn from the Netherlands about defending against floods and adapting to climate change’. Attention was given to issues such as the depoldering of Noordwaard. Room for the River projects were also visited by The Observer, Independent and BBC as well as Sky News as part of their quest to find germane examples of high water protection. • Following the flooding in Germany (June 2013), the case was argued in various media publications (inc. Die Welt, Süddeutsche Zeitung, ENORM) for adopting the Dutch approach: ‘Raum für die Flüsse’. • The Australian and Canadian public service broadcasters produced television reports in Nijmegen and Noordwaard, and French public service broadcasting did some filming in the Overdiepse Polder for their evening news (early 2014).
‘The programme’s combination of safety with spatial planning quality reflects demand for integrated solutions’
Focus from abroad How do you do that? Countries from around the globe – China, the USA, Vietnam, Germany, the UK, South Sudan, Mexico and Indonesia – are keen to learn more about the Room for the River approach. There is particular interest in the environmental process: how the Netherlands is coping with relinquishing tracts of land to the water and how Room for the River is dealing with people who are forced to relocate.
• The New York Times covered the Dutch approach in the article ‘Going with the flow’ (2013). • Room for the River was featured in the American documentaries ‘The Years Project’ produced by James Cameron, Al Gore’s ’24 Hours of Reality’ and ‘Megastorm Barriers’, produced by ex-CNN journalist Miles O’Brien.
Published on Feb 25, 2015