Roadmap Next Economy presented to Euro Commissioner Šefčovič
Regional Minister Adri Bom – Lemstra and Floor Vermeulen were present at a major event where the so-called Roadmap Next Economy was presented to the Euro commissioner for Energy, Maroš Šefčovič.
Despite climate sceptics and populists such as Trump and Wilders, the billion-euro plan of the metropolis region Rotterdam Den Haag for further sustainable practices (‘greening‘) and digitization of the economy will succeed.
That is the message issued last Friday by the Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, his colleague from Den Haag, Mr Jozias van Aartsen, and Jeremy Rifkin, the American professor who preaches the third industrial revolution.
During a major event, the so-called Roadmap Next Economy was presented to the Euro commissioner for Energy, Maros Sefcovic. This plan, on which three hundred people worked for a year, is the Southern Randstad conurbation's answer to ‘the economic challenges of the future’.
Until 2050, the implementation of the Roadmap will require an investment of €50 billion. But according to Rifkin, who acted as adviser and inspirer, that investment will be recouped entirely. The American outlined scenic views for the region, with a 5G network and roads with self-steering vehicles.
Populists tend to turn the clock back. Trump, for one, has indicated plans to start using coal again. But according to Aboutaleb, the movement to a greener and digitized economy is inevitable and 'too big' to be stopped. 'We are going to carry out this plan, no matter what colour the future government will be.'
According to Rifkin, plans such as this one are ‘the only antidote’ to the ‘extreme political horror’ that currently holds the world in its grip. 'We are in a transitional phase of the second to the third industrial revolution. That creates a lot of uncertainty to the economic and social area', explained the professor. As a result, political forces based on fear of change develop.
In his view, it will be mainly the large cities that should lead the adaptation to digitization and energy transformation. They are the ones that can fend off the prevailing culture of fear, with the support of private companies, because they, according to Aboutaleb, are convinced of the need for the energy transformation.
This was confirmed by Jan Rotmans, Professor of Transitions and Transition Management, one of the authors of the master plan. ‘In the past, the multinationals and the employers’ club VNO-NCW always put a spanner in the works, for example, in the energy transition. That is a thing of the past.’
But a plan alone is insufficient, the implementation is what matters. ‘To that end, we must act this year and come up with concrete action plans’, stressed Maarten Struijvenberg, the Rotterdam Alderman of social affairs, employment and economy.
During the afternoon, various companies presented their plans for digitization and energy transformation to the Euro Commissioner. They ranged from new flexible energy networks and sensors supplied by advanced solar cells to the processing of waste into new raw materials.
And the funding of the Roadmap Next Economy? Everyone is looking to the fleshpots of Brussels. Sefcovic indicated that he welcomed the Randstad Conurbation master plan, but at the same time stressed that no easy financial handouts are to be expected from Brussels.
Brussel is more than willing to help with the so-called Juncker-fund, but the private sector will have to contribute as well. Co-financing, in financial jargon. And preferably for concrete plans, added the Slovak Euro Commissioner. Rifkin put on the pressure a little more: 'You must showcase it now. The metropolis region has a European example function.'