Dutch Delta Commissioner speaks in flood-hit UK

"It's in the DNA of the Dutch to engineer our way to safety", said Peter Glas, the Dutch Delta Commissioner, at a trade fair about flood management on 26 February in Peterborough, UK. He had been invited by the British Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA).

Delta Commissioner Peter Glas at Floodex UK
Delta Commissioner Peter Glas at Floodex UK

Climate change requires adaptation

To ensure the Netherlands is well-equipped to adapt to a changing climate - with rising sea levels, more erratic rain patterns and longer periods of drought - a long-term Delta Programme was launched in 2010. Delta Commissioner Glas, who heads this nationwide climate adaptation programme, explained that the Dutch, living in a flood prone delta, have always had to come up with innovative solutions to keep dry feet while at the same time ensuring there was always enough drinking water available. A rapidly changing climate, however, means the country's spatial planning, and in particular its approach to dealing with water, requires constant readjustment.

Visit by Dutch Delta Commissioner highly anticipated

A visit from the Dutch Delta Commissioner was highly anticipated, because various towns in England and Wales are currently battling against flooded rivers. This month, two storms within the space of a week, followed by more rainfall, have resulted in many flooded riverside homes. Not for the first time. Flooding caused by heavy rainfall has become a recurring problem in low lying areas of the UK. As a result, a number of British media outlets had also come to Peterborough to hear from Mr Glas about the Dutch approach to climate smart spatial planning.

Dutch and British water experts share knowledge

The flat Dutch landscape is very different from the hills and valleys in the UK, but there is still a lot of merit in sharing experiences and lessons learned with each other. Both countries need to adopt climate adaptation measures in their long-term spatial planning and there is no blue print for how this is done. But why reinvent the wheel if a neighbouring country is willing and able to share the knowledge? The Dutch are eager to learn from the situation in the UK and happy to share knowledge about the state of affairs in the Netherlands.

Dutch Embassy also present at Floodex

Delta Commissioner Glas was accompanied by the Deputy Head of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Brechje Schwachöfer, and by Commercial Attaché Terence Speyer. Not surprisingly, various Dutch companies had a stand at Floodex, a trade fair focusing on flood prevention. Dutch companies can draw on centuries of knowledge and experience in finding sustainable solutions to protect river deltas.

Contact the Dutch Embassy

The Embassy assists Dutch companies to expand to the UK, by providing market information and by helping to establish useful connections. Are you a Dutch company doing business in the UK or planning to expand to the UK? Feel free to contact the Embassy's Economic Department with any queries you might have. Email us on LON-EA@minbuza.nl.