The Spacial Planning challenge of the Netherlands. My country becomes a bit too ‘busy’. To do everything always, at every place is not possible and thus I say: “Den Haag (Houston) we have a problem (no, a challenge)!”

There is trouble in the Netherlands because our government is targeting our farmers. They have to stop because of the ammonia emissions of the sector. This plan is clumsily drafted and even more clumsily communicated. A large part of the Dutch, including the farmers, are therefore ‘angry’.

The Netherlands is one of the four most populous countries in the world. 512 people per km2 live in this small country. The Netherlands is also one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Furthermore, the Netherlands is a river delta, half of the Netherlands is below sea level. We also have a hospitable and open economy relationship within the European Union; it is not surprising that so many people from outside the EU also want to live in the Netherlands. Finally, after America, the Netherlands is also the largest exporter of food in the world, which can be partly explained by our large ports in Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

In brief; The Netherlands is packed and faces a major Spatial Planning challenge: How are we going to further develop and organize this country in the coming decades?

This plan should include integrated solutions for:

  • Housing, we need hundreds of thousands of additional housing. Both for starters and at the top of the housing market.
  • Sustainability. We Dutch want cleaner air, cleaner water, more nature and fewer emissions (ammonia, NOx, CO2, particulate matter).
  • Consumption. In fact, nobody wants to ‘reduce consumption’. We prefer to go on holiday, eat meat, recreate, have fun, and buy cheap stuff via Amazon.
  • Labor. Almost every Dutch person thinks it’s great to work four days a week. Preferably in the office for a high salary. And most employers also want a large supply of cheap labour, but as a society we also want unemployment to remain low.

Why do I consciously say “an integrated plan”? Because:

  • These four topics are closely related.
  • Because all these topics have a large political component (what do we want as a society in the near future).
  • Because it is known from complexity sciences that there are no simple solutions for complex challenges.

Unfortunately, our politicians in the House of Representatives do not see this challenge in this way. I am therefore afraid that we will have unrest for a long time to come. I recently wrote and published three pieces on my Dutch blog. Perhaps I will translate those parts into English again.

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