Tuesday, March 22, 2011

World learns from Dutch to keep head above water

The Independent via AFP: Dubai's Palm Island, New Orleans' upgraded dykes and Australia's water recycling plants all have one thing in common: they benefited from Dutch know-how gained in the country's age-old quest for dry feet. "The Netherlands has always battled against this natural enemy - water," said Hanneke Heeres of the Union of District Water Boards (UvW), which after 900 years existence is the Netherlands' oldest government body.

"And with global warming and rising sea levels the world is more and more interested in Dutch expertise," he told AFP. Currently, Dutch companies are focusing efforts on projects on delta areas in five countries: Mozambique, Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam.

An abiding image of the Netherlands is the boy from a famous children's tale who plugs a hole in a dyke with his finger to save his country from inundation - and with reason: the country's lowest point is 6.74 metres (22.2 feet) below sea level. In all, 26 percent of the country is below sea level. "

…Today, the country has a global reputation in "delta-technology" - claiming some 40 percent of the world's turnover in the open market. This excludes states who protect domestic makers of flood-barriers, dykes and bridges with anti-competition measures. Out of a population of 16.5 million, the Netherlands also boasts some 2,000 companies in the field of water, employing about 80,000 people.

…Dutch savvy in the field has gone well beyond Europe and already been put to use in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Its experts helped build storm surge barriers in St. Petersburg and Venice, helped make Jakarta flood resilient and advised on climate adaptation plans for the Maldives and southeast Asia's Mekong Delta….

Jan Asselijn (1615-1652), Bruch des Muiderdeiches bei Sturmflut

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