This sector includes organisations that are responsible for the management of (surface) water, nature and biodiversity. 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 sector Water Management, Nature Management, and Biodiversity
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 nature 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. The EU pays increasing attention to the so-called ecosystem services approach, looking towards the natural functions of nature and biodiversity and the role they play in human well-being. This approach is holistic in nature, bringing together human values and needs with sustainable nature management, protection, and conservation.
To tackle these challenges, a number of relevant developments must be 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 possible 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, for example with 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.
- Biodiversity: Protecting and restoring biodiversity is a priority at both the national and the European level. This includes the protection of vulnarable nature areas (such as those located within the European Natura 2000 netwerk), as well as plant and animal species that are vulnerable or under threat. An ecosystem services approach emphasises the importance of biodiversity for human well-being, but projects in which the intrinsic value of nature takes centre stage also have an important role to play. There are also various possibilities for consortiums in which different parties combine their priorities, for example bringing together climate adaptation, nature management, and increasing biodiversity.
Relevant Grant Programmes
Examples of Projects in the Water Management, Nature Management, and Biodiversity Sector