Zuid-Holland is a part of a polycentric metropolis in the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt delta. A network city in which towns, villages and industry intertwine with water, nature, (intensive) agriculture and accompanying logistics flows of people, goods and data. But it is also a metropolis involved in the substance flows of energy, sediments, nutrients, water, biota and food.
Towns and urban networks are becoming increasingly important in Europe. More than 70% of the European population lives in towns, and towns are an important driving force for economic growth. Besides London and Paris, Europe knows not metropolises, but only towns connected in polycentric networks such as the Randstad conurbation. As a result, towns and provinces are closely connected to each other. Administrative boundaries, however, can limit the development of polycentric urban areas. Urban networks cross the political-administrative and administrative municipal and provincial boundaries.
As mentioned before, Zuid-Holland is an urbanised area of great economic value, with a lot of economic activity and a high knowledge density. The polycentric urbanised structure and the regions with multiple centres are characteristic of North-Western Europe. Dutch polycentric regions such as the Randstad conurbation have a low density compared to their international competitors, causing them to lack agglomeration power. Cooperation with nearby urban areas at home and abroad may be the solution to this. Zuid-Holland's agglomeration force can be strengthened by ‘borrowed size’ and ‘borrowed qualities': mass and functions are 'borrowed from the neighbours'.
Elaboration: research Cooperation in the Euro delta metropolis
Cooperation in the Euro delta metropolis investigated how the international clout of this area could be increased. This area consists of three economic core regions: the Randstad conurbation, the Ruhr area and the Flemish Space and the area in between. As the gateway to Europe, this Euro delta metropolis could continue to grow into a densely populated and economically powerful area.
In three hours’ travel, almost 40 million people can be reached. This makes the Euro delta metropolis a global hub for goods, services and knowledge. In addition, this area has a strong will to cooperate in cross-border issues, both historically and in the current policy.
The research was conducted by the Deltametropool Association, commissioned by the provinces of Zuid-Holland and Gelderland. The reason for the research is that the power of the Euro delta metropolis is recognized administratively. However, the opportunities are not maximised in its operationalizing. The advice's perspective, therefore, regards the importance of the entire Euro delta metropolis and not just that of the commissioning provinces.
The research results in nine concrete opportunities and accompanying advices to improve the international cooperation of the regions on three cross-border networks in the area, i.e. The Water, the Energy and the Urban Network.
One of the priorities that the province of Zuid-Holland is working on in the coming years, is to make better use of our rich economic potential. Zuid-Holland in general accounts for around one fifth of the total added value from business activity in the Netherlands. The province has a strong concentration of knowledge, human capital and economic capital. Our ports, industries, agriculture and horticulture sectors, research institutes, colleges and universities are all world-renowned.
We intend to maintain this leading position, ensuring that the Port of Rotterdam retains its leading position in world shipping and that our agriculture and horticulture sectors remain among the world’s best. We are doing so by encouraging modernisation and the adoption of sustainable practices, and by making sure that these economic powerhouses can count on excellent accessibility by road, water, rail and air.
European partners and networks
Europe offers important instruments for exploiting our economic potential, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Horizon 2020. In order to effectively deploy these instruments, Zuid-Holland collaborates with the other Randstad provinces (Flevoland, Noord-Holland and Utrecht), with Eindhoven’s Brainport and other strong regions in Europe, for instance within the Vanguard network .
Technological developments and globalisation create a new economy with different dynamics. The province aims for a flexible, innovative and responsive economy, able to take advantage of the growth markets of the future.
Key clusters make this economically smart region an incubator of innovation. The region ranks among the world leaders in these sectors:
Zuid-Holland is a European hotspot of high-tech companies and knowledge institutes, and the region belongs to various top clusters. For that reason, Zuid-Holland does not focus on one or two priority clusters in the European Smart Specialisation Strategy (or S3, a strategic approach to economic development through targeted support to research and innovation). Instead, the province aims at strengthening the cross-overs of the strong clusters. These characteristics make Zuid-Holland an excellent real-life testing ground or real-life laboratory for smart urban regions.
Climate change, air pollution, a fast-growing world population and extreme urbanisation are the challenges of metropolitan regions across the globe. Our innovative companies work closely with universities, higher and intermediate vocational colleges and schools, and world-famous knowledge institutes in order to create solutions to these global challenges. We do not only conceive of solutions, but also develop and test them in our fieldlabs, for example the Green Village fieldlab that focuses on sustainable energy solutions, and the FreshTeq fieldlab that aims at ensuring a sufficient supply of fresh and healthy food to (mega)cities. The solutions that these fieldlabs deliver are crucial to safeguarding the quality of life of current and future generations.