This sector includes organisations that are responsible for the management of (surface) water and the natural environment. Important organisations include the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat) and the Forestry Commission (Staatsbosbeheer), the water authorities, water supply companies, other nature management organisations, the knowledge broker STOWA, other governmental bodies (mainly provinces and municipalities), knowledge institutes, and technology suppliers.
Themes of the Water and Environmental Management Sector
European legislation imposes ever stricter requirements when it comes to water quality. Furthermore, agreements have been reached about the preservation and recovery of biodiversity and natural values. It is necessary to take measures that counteract the negative effects of climate change (climate adaptation), including both a temporary excess of water (as a result of heavier precipitation) and a shortage of water, which may lead to salinisation and desiccation. The challenge is to move from a sectoral to an integral approach that takes all relevant aspects into account.
To tackle these challenges, a number of relevant developments must bet taken into consideration:
- Proper surface water quality. Wastewater is treated in an efficient manner to achieve high water quality. Innovations are an important factor here (see also Wastewater). Furthermore, measures are taken to keep the surface water healthy. This includes the elimination of blue-green algae, the removal of invasive vegetation (floating pennywort), and the construction of eco-friendly riverbanks.
- Effective dykes to keep the water in. In the Netherlands, new frameworks and standards have been established for dykes. These are based on the concept of multi-layer safety, which focuses on prevention (sufficiently robust dykes), spatial planning (what actions are possibe and allowed within a given environment), and risk management (before, during, and after a calamity). Innovative developments pertaining to the construction of dykes (including nature-based solutions), monitoring, and risk management are important factors here.
- Strategic cooperation. Water authorities cooperate strategically with a number of other parties. This can be done on a permanent or temporary basis and includes cooperative alliances with e.g., businesses specialising in waterway construction, developers and suppliers of sensor technology, and governments. In cooperation with these partners, water authorities develop new products, services, and technologies in order to keep the issue of water management both manageable and affordable.
Relevant grant programmes
Examples of Projects in the Water and Environmental Management Sector