‘Building with Nature is more than a passing fashion’

Published: 20 June 2014

‘Bouwen met de natuur is geen modegril of proefballon meer, maar keihard noodzakelijk. Internationaal staat het dan ook hoog op de prioriteitenlijst.’ Dat zei Maarten Smits, algemeen directeur van Deltares, tijdens het symposium ‘Building with nature in deltasteden’. Het symposium werd op 19 juni georganiseerd in het kader van de IABR 2014 in Rotterdam, dat als thema ‘Urban by nature’ heeft.

‘Building with Nature has developed into more than just a passing fashion or an idea floating around: it’s a vital necessity. So it is high on the international priority list,’ explained Maarten Smits, the Deltares managing director, at the ‘Building with Nature in Delta Cities’ symposium, which was organised on 19 June as part of the IABR 2014 in Rotterdam, where the theme was ‘Urban by nature’.

Maarten Smits

Maarten Smits

Dikes no longer the universal solution for improvements in flood risk management

Maarten Smits pointed out that delta cities are very vulnerable throughout the world because of sea-level rise and land subsidence. In many cities, the level of protection for the ever-growing global population and expansion in economic activities is woefully inadequate. ‘However, raising or strengthening dikes is no longer the one-size-fits-all solution for improvements in flood risk management,’ he pointed out. ‘Hard infrastructure is often much too expensive or ineffective because of the local conditions. That is why innovative concepts such as “building with nature” are so vitally necessary in terms of keeping safety levels in delta areas up to standard.’

Pioneering role for the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a pioneer with this concept, which uses natural elements and processes to improve flood risk management, with the Sand Motor and Room for the River as high-profile examples. The strengths of research institutes and business have been brought together in the Ecoshape foundation in recent years, generating extensive knowledge and experience in a large number of pilot projects. Maarten Smits: ‘We are now going to transform this knowledge base into practical tools so that the concept can be rolled out worldwide safely and on a large scale.’

The ‘Building with Nature in Delta Cities’ symposium was organised by EcoShape, Deltares and Witteveen + Bos.