dws-h2o9-donovan-schultz-770pxAccording to Dutch minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen (left on photo) of Infrastructure and Environment it is important to constantly weigh all options on flood protection. The situation changes constantly so it is important to keep all options open.

Minister Schultz stated this in her opening speech at the H2O9 Forum in New York on 9 September.

She told her audience that flood protection is about adaptation and should not be simplified to a choice between building a storm surge barrier or abandoning a flood prone area.

US State secretary Shaun Donovan (right on photo) of Housing and Urban development was the other key note speaker at the US-Dutch conference on flood protection.

A giant jigsaw puzzle
"Every new project or challenge leads to new expertise.  And that expertise is useful not only to us, but to the whole world.  Water issues are like a giant jigsaw puzzle.  A jigsaw that we can never finish, because its shape is constantly changing", said Schultz.

"The Dutch approach does not provide all the answers. It is about tackling dilemmas and devising strategies. It is about design, trial and error. That is why Secretary Donovan and I are so eager to invest in each other’s knowledge. To work together on specific areas.  And to foster dialogue and partnership between experts", she added.

dws-h2o9-donovan-key-note-350pxRebuild the region smarter
State secretary Shaun Donovan mentioned in his key note the great impact super storm Sandy had on him as a native New Yorker. He also reviewed the progess that has been made by the special Hurricane Sandy Task Force.

"First, we addressed the short term needs of the region but we are also firmly focused on the long-term. Our goal moving forward is to help the region build smarter and stronger than before – work that can also serve as a model for communities across the world."

Donovan stressed that the task force isn’t about a response to the next big storm. "What it calls for is a fundamental shift in the way communities here approach future development".

Hands-on, solutions-oriented
H209 Forum is expected to be a lively, hands-on, solutions-oriented conference with conclusions that will benefit coastal cities worldwide. During shirt sleeve sessions US and Dutch experts can exchange their views and ideas.


Henk Ovink explained the collaboration between the Netherlands and the US. Ovink works for the Dutch ministry and is assigned to the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Taskforce. (photos by Gina Kosty)

A follow up conference in the Netherlands is set for 2015.

About US-Dutch cooperation
Dutch Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure and the Environment and US secretary Shaun Donovan of Housing and Urban Development met earlier this year when they signed an agreement, pledging closer cooperation between their two countries on issues related to disaster mitigation, sustainable and integrated planning and water management infrastructure.

Read the news item on this meeting:
- Netherlands, US intensify cooperation on water management, climate resilience and flood preparedness, 5 March 2013

About Rebuild by design competition
Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force selected ten design teams to proceed to Stage Two of Rebuild by Design, a multi-stage regional design competition that will develop innovative projects to protect and enhance Sandy-affected communities. Two teams are led by Dutch architect companies in cooperation with an American partner. In total 15 Dutch companies participate in five teams.
Read the news item on this announcement:
- Large Dutch participation in 10 selected teams for post-Sandy's rebuild by design competition, 11 August 2013

More information
H2O9 Forum

The Netherlands Consulate General 
New York, United States
+1 877 388 2443