On Tuesday 17 April, more than 450 water professionals and students from the entire country attended the fourth NKWK Knowledge conference. The abbreviation NKWK stands for Nationaal Kennis- en Innovatieprogramma Water en Klimaat (National Knowledge and Innovation Programme Water and Climate). This year's theme was 'from paper to practice'.
'It takes a lot of energy to connect research and practice,’ said Delta commissioner Wim Kuijken at the conference. 'The fact that the Netherlands has an NKWK gives us a head start in tackling the big water issues of our time.'
The NKWK is closely related to the Delta programme, and brings together authorities, think tanks and companies in handling pilots, current issues and long-term developments with regard to water and climate.
Honorary chairman and programme manager of the NKWK Roeland Allewijn (Rijkswaterstaat, part of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management), stated that after three years of being on the road the NKWK is finally gathering steam. 'We are actually making the step from paper to practice. This means we are now often stepping out of our "water world" to connect with other sectors and companies.'
Louise O. Fresco, President of the Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research, also campaigned for an integrated approach to our water and climate issues. 'Sustainable responses to issues regarding water and climate demand coherence. It's time to tell the big story that concerns every ministry and demands stability and cooperation in the long run.'
Adaptation and mitigation
In order to thank her for her personal involvement and celebrate the Wageningen University and Research centennial, Delta commissioner Wim Kuijken presented Louise O. Fresco with a symbolic blue vase. 'Cooperation, research and knowledge are essential in topics such as global warming, rising sea levels, downpours, coastal erosion and salinisation. Adaptation and mitigation are huge tasks. In order to accomplish these tasks, we need to work together. Insecurities will always remain, but we can take these insecurities and incorporate them into our adaptation strategy.'
Following the plenary session, the programme continued with sessions on climate resilience and adaptation, knowledge of rivers, smart water management and the Nationaal Watermodel (National Water Model). After lunch, there were field excursions to the climate resilient town of Renkum, the natural fortification of Grebbedijk and the green-blue climate adaptation projects in Nijmegen. This year was the first time that such excursions took place.
'The conference drew even more participants than last year and it is clear that the NKWK is thriving,’ concluded Delta commissioner Wim Kuijken. 'We have found each other and are working together towards finding solutions. This year, we were very pleased to welcome 40 students, the water managers of the future.'
An extensive report of the fourth NKWK conference (including video material) is coming soon.