It is no coincidence that the Netherlands is historically called the Low Countries: over 20% of our population lives below sea level and 50% of our land lies less than one meter above sea level. Sea levels could rise by up to 1.2m in 2100 and even up to 2m if more land ice breaks up.
Living in this challenging environment, we had to constantly adapt our approach to water over time and keep innovating. This has resulted in the Netherlands becoming one of the world’s leaders in water management.
The Netherlands’ experience in water technology innovations is not only related to the protection of the Dutch coast but also to water-saving systems and water technologies for water recycling. These innovations contribute to global water security for the growing world population, ensuring clean and safe water, and improving the water cycle.
Good water management and the use of new technologies are even more essential in the context of climate change and sustainability. Because water is, and always will be crucial. Flood risks, water shortages, and water contamination will become even greater challenges in the future, due to increasing population pressure, rising sea levels, and infrastructure congestion. And the Netherlands seeks to explore sustainable solutions within the water sector to tackle these challenges.
For instance, the Dutch are one of the pioneers of the ‘Building with Nature’ approach, which adopts nature-based solutions to cope with local water challenges. These natural solutions prove to be more resilient and multi-functional compared to conventional civil engineering interventions. This concept is applied in various innovative projects in the Netherlands, including the Marker Wadden (an archipelago of 10,000 hectares of islands) and the Sand Motor, an artificial hook-shaped peninsula of about 21.5 million m3 of sand, designed for natural coastal protection. The Netherlands also contributes to sustainable solutions for tackling water issues internationally. In Vietnam alone, the Netherlands provided support spending €10 million on water supply and sanitation projects.
Within the NLWorks portfolio, we currently intend to focus on multiple international initiatives within the water sector:
- Potentially scalable water sanitation models to improve drinking water quality and availability.
- Initiatives to reduce water contamination by transforming plastic waste to zero-waste products.