Speech Minister Harbers, at the opinion session on nature-based solutions, Vietnam

19-03-2024

“We’re looking at a sea-level rise of three metres by 2100. In another scenario, we wouldn't reach that level until well after 2300. We can go a long way with technical solutions. But we still need to move with nature and use nature-based solutions."

Good afternoon,

  • It’s a great pleasure to open this session on nature-based solutions.
  • A strategy that is now widely used in the Netherlands. 
  • And that proved its worth very recently. Last December, my country was faced with an accumulation of high tides, strong winds, heavy rains and saturated soil.
  • This was a real stress test for our water management system.
  • We had to close all the storm surge barriers along our coast.
  • And for the first time since its completion in 1997, the Maeslant barrier closed automatically.
  • So our engineered solutions passed the stress test. But what about our nature-based solutions?
     
  • They proved their worth a few days later. When almost all our rivers overflowed their banks. And washed over the floodplains.
  • We’ve spent the past 20 years creating room for rivers, for example by lowering dykes or moving them further inland.
  • We’ve let nature take its course in a controlled way. And that’s prevented a lot of damage.

We’ve let nature take its course in a controlled way. And that’s prevented a lot of damage.

 We’ve let nature take its course in a controlled way. And that’s prevented a lot of damage.

  • We sorely need these nature-based solutions, in addition to or in combination with technical solutions.
  • As a low-lying delta country we’re also facing rising sea levels, just like Vietnam.
  • In the most extreme climate scenario, we’re looking at a sea-level rise of three metres by 2100. In another scenario, we wouldn't reach that level until well after 2300. 
  • We can go a long way with technical solutions. But we still need to move with nature and use nature-based solutions.
     
  • Vietnam and the Netherlands face similar challenges in terms of climate change and water.
  • Here in Vietnam those challenges are especially acute in the Mekong Delta.
  • Here, a combination of increasing soil salinity, land subsidence, river and coastal erosion, biodiversity loss and sea-level rise is creating an urgent need for sustainable solutions and practices.
     
  • Nature-based solutions are an important set of tools for tackling several of these issues at the same time.
  • They’re more flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances than grey or conventional infrastructure.
  • We need them both: green and grey solutions. That’s why in the Netherlands we say: 'green where possible, grey where necessary’.
  • Let me give you a few more examples of nature-based solutions in my country: 
  • Like the sand motor: sea currents pick up sand from this man-made sandbank, continuously replenishing the beach. This helps maintain the dunes that protect our coast from flooding. For more than 10 years now, it has been strengthening our coast in a natural way.
     
  • And there are other, smaller solutions, like tidal flood parks, green roofs and vertical gardens, and a national campaign that encourages people to replace paving with plants in their gardens, for example, to create more green spaces and boost biodiversity in urban areas.
  • We need these kinds of innovations – nationally and internationally.
  • We can help and inspire each other. So it’s great that we have a strong relationship with Vietnam.
  • And it’s great that we have solid cooperation in the flood risk management project in Thu Duc (part of Ho Chi Minh City), in the mangrove restoration project with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Asian Development Bank, and in the aquifer storage and recharge pilot project in the Mekong Delta.
     
  • There’s also excellent direct cooperation between companies from our two countries. Like in water technology for water supply and wastewater treatment, another area where nature-based solutions are being used more and more.
     
  • There are many more opportunities for applying them, and Dutch companies and knowledge institutions are ready to help.
  • That’s why I’m proud of the diverse delegation of companies and knowledge institutions that have come here with me.
  • They’re keen to work with Vietnamese partners in the transition to a sustainable and prosperous delta.
     
  • We have to keep searching for even better solutions for climate adaptation, alongside the challenges of mitigation.
     
  • Meeting people and visiting places where good examples are being set is inspiring. That’s why it’s great to meet all of you.
  • And I’m sure this session will provide you with inspiration for your work.
  • Thank you.

 

 

 

 

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