Navigating Climate Change: The Netherlands as a Test Case

The group pose on a trip to the Netherlands

This intensive study trip, titled “Navigating Climate Change: The Netherlands as a Global Test Case,” offered an in-depth overview of sustainability management at businesses, NGOs, and public policy bodies in the Netherlands with respect to climate change and other human impacts on the environment. Students explored test cases, in a highly developed country, that forced them to del with possible reactions to the emergent, complex situations caused by climate change and other environmental and social impacts of human activities. 

The Netherlands is the lowest part of Europe and has for centuries been protected by an impressive body of knowledge about water management. Anthropogenic climate change poses an unprecedented challenge for the future of the country, which largely consists of a river delta, due to sea-level rise, atmospheric rivers and extreme weather. The Netherlands is considered a test case and highly representative of the other 40 or so river deltas worldwide, which are home to over half of the world's population. One thing is clear: the country urgently needs to rethink its climate policies and practices.

Students met with high-ranking experts in these sectors offering insights into the latest environmental solutions and management practices, specifically through three intensive workshops organized by host organizations. The first was held at The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), which is the national institute for strategic policy analysis in the fields of the environment, nature and spatial planning. The agecny contributes to the quality of political and administrative decision-making by conducting outlook studies, analyses and evaluations in which an integrated approach is considered paramount. 

A presentation from one of the partner organizations

Partner organisation gives a presentation

Students pose on the trip

Students pose on a trip to the Netherlands

A guest lecture while on the trip

Guest lecture in the Netherlands

Second, students visited Avebe, which is a cooperative of some 2,300 starch-potato growers in the Netherlands and Germany. Avebe is the world market leader in the field of potato starch and potato protein and focuses on the production of high-quality food ingredients by using modern, innovative techniques. Avebe's ambition, to turn waste into food in the context of the circular economy, is driven by one main strategic question: What does market-oriented potato cultivation and the reduction of the ecological footprint mean in practice?

The third workshop was organized around sustainability issues relating to energy and food in a village community in Friesland. Students explored how a small engaged community is acting on climate change challenges.

Following these visits, students worked in different teams to produce recommendations for the strategic questions posed by our three host organizations. They developed and presented possible strategies and frameworks for management and staff in a meeting that occurred during their final exam period.