Province at economic mission Germany

Almost 70 representatives of companies, knowledge institutions and authorities in Germany and The Netherlands travelled from 8-10 February 2017 to the German federal states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia for the economic mission led by Liliane Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. The mission coincided with the visit of the King and Queen to these German federal states. The purpose of the visit was to strengthen the relations between The Netherlands and these federal states. Besides themes such as photonics and biobased chemistry, an important part of the mission regarded water safety. Regional minister Rik Janssen represented the Province of Zuid-Holland during the mission.

Dealing with floods and excess water was an important theme during the mission. Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia are linked to each other by the river Elbe. After several floods of the river, high water protection measures have been taken. These have not been completed yet, and innovative measures and further investment in the protection against high water are needed. Examples of the challenges faced are water safety and climate change, navigability and water quality. Sustainable development of the river and the surrounding areas requires an integral and cross-border approach to safeguard European, regional and local interests.

Water Mission

During the mission, the parties discussed the approach of excess water, and shared knowledge of innovative solutions. For example, how Germany handled the evacuations and other emergency measures in 2013. Consultancies, hydraulic engineers, knowledge institutions, companies with smart products and expert knowledge, and authorities can work with project developers and urban planners and become involved in the development of the region. 
The Mayor of Grimma, the Regional Minister for the Environment and Agriculture of Saxony, Managing Director of the Netherlands Water Partnership and his German colleagues kicked off the water mission on Thursday 9 February and offered the audience a ‘look into the kitchen’ of the Dutch and German water world. Subsequently, various Dutch and German parties contributed by sharing their experiences. Regional Minister Janssen, in his capacity of moderator of a dialogue session, held discussions with entrepreneurs, knowledge institutions and authorities of The Netherlands and Germany on the subject of Water Governance.

On Friday 10 February, during the conference "Flood protection - Rivers of the Future' Regional Minister Rik Janssen -as moderator of the Dutch-German dialogue table - looked back on the conversation among representatives of government organizations involved in Water Governance. Furthermore, in the Kornhaus in Dessau, the Royal Couple, Secretary Schultz van Haegen and various Regional Ministers from Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia were informed of the German approach along the Elbe; and Dutch entrepreneurs and knowledge institutions, including Deltares, presented their water innovations.

United against water

Ever more regions have to deal with the consequences of climate change. Higher sea and river water levels lead to increased flood risks; more extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rain and hailstorms, lead to more damage caused by excess water and there are longer periods of drought. How we deal with these consequences is a major challenge for the coming decades. No single authority or interested party can do this alone. For the low-lying regions and urban areas, the traditional approach (prevention with hard infrastructure) will not suffice in the long term. Floods tend not to observe local, regional or national borders either. That is why cooperation in the field of knowledge development and innovation, multiple use of space, water storage and a joint commitment to obtaining European co-financing is of the utmost importance. This requires cooperation at national, regional and local level; such as the execution of spatial projects and joint contingency exercises.

"I am a great supporter of exchanging knowledge on water technology. Meetings such as those of the last few days certainly contribute to the emergence of new collaborations and offer economic opportunities for the Zuid-Holland Water & Delta Cluster", says Rik Janssen.

FRAMES: Resilient against the impact of flooding

The province of Zuid-Holland is active in national networks to stimulate the government and interested parties to make plans and take measures, such as the Delta Programme (link), and has also become the lead partner for the European water safety project FRAMES (Flood Resilient Areas by multi-layEr Safety Approach). The project aims to make the inhabitants and the infrastructure more resilient against the effects of possible flooding and excess water. Parties from The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the UK and Denmark have formed a consortium. In all, there are 11 partners, among which regional authorities, universities and area managers. The partners cooperate on knowledge development and contribute financially to pilot projects. The FRAMES consortium wants to show that the introduction of safety measures on different levels and by various parties can limit the effects of flooding. Inhabitants, authorities and other stakeholders will be directly involved via 13 pilot projects. The results are to form the basis for the policy of local, regional, national and international governments and authorities.