Portrait of Thecla Bowdewes

Maritime figurehead gives her vision of the maritime future

Water and Maritime Top Sector figurehead Thecla Bodewes gives us her vision of the future of the maritime sector. The maritime sector has launched a campaign called 'the Maritime Future is NOW' to stimulate a sustainable blue economy in which productive and healthy oceans play a central role to addressing some of the global challenges we face. 

Thecla Bodewes: "As a delta, the Netherlands has developed solutions and we want to share them with the world. Larger companies are helping smaller companies to grow. This not only applies to the Water and Maritime sector. We need to do this for all technology sectors. For example we can support developing countries with their water-related challenges and its food production.

By realising projects to solve global challenges together, we achieve things that are more valuable than money. We help each other gain the knowledge we need, while building physical solutions. This way we can find ways to maintain clean and productive oceans, whilst also tackling the problem of rising sea levels."

By realising projects to solve global challenges together... we help each other gain the knowledge we need, while building physical solutions.
Thecla Bowdewes
What kind of role can the Dutch Water and Maritime sector play in achieving our climate goals?

The Dutch Water and Maritime sector is the most important sector inside and outside the Netherlands. We are thought leaders on issues related to too much, too little and too dirty water. If we don’t have a strong and diverse Water and Maritime sector, it affects all the other sectors, like agriculture and energy and therefore food production and manufacturing. Without the Water and Maritime sector, we will not be able to find solutions to achieve the agreements formulated in the Paris Agreement.

Shipping is already the cleanest mode of transport per unit per kilometre. With more ocean than land on the planet, we need to use some of that space to build airports or expand our seaports, just as the Port of Rotterdam built Maasvlakte 2. The Netherlands is setting up wind farms at sea, with seaweed farms between the turbines. Dutch companies are developing advanced membrane technology which converts sea water into drinking water.

How can we bring our water and maritime knowledge and expertise to the next level?

The Netherlands is a very innovative country with advanced knowledge centres and education in maritime, water and delta technology. We have the best universities and knowledge centres, the best research and development departments. By initiating innovative projects we also learn a lot. In the first place for the Netherlands, but we also need to share that knowledge with Europe and the world. The Water and Maritime Top Sector can be an example to other sectors. And the Netherlands’ top sectors can, in turn, help other countries, as we do in other deltas like Vietnam, India and Bangladesh.

What is the driving ambition behind the Maritime masterplan?

Maritime, water and delta technology projects are interdisciplinary. Take a future-proof project like the Maritime Masterplan for zero-emission shipping. We need to reduce emissions to zero within 20 years. The Dutch government is acting as a launching customer for 30 zero-emission ships. But it must also provide the infrastructure for innovation, so that companies feel confident to invest.

Climate change is happening already and we have to adapt. We need to invest in pragmatic solutions like bunker stations for hydrogen and methanol to fuel ships. The Netherlands’ offshore wind parks are a good example. At first they were subsidised, but very quickly they no longer needed government funding.

We must start planning for cross-sector development. The automotive, maritime and airplane industries, for example, can use the same cross-sector technology and research and development. The government is investing 150 million euros in these three sectors. The automotive industry is leading the development of hydrogen technology and electrification of vehicles, with maritime industries following them. It is the same process whatever the mode of transport. Solutions for one sector can be applied in another sector and throughout the world.

Solutions for one sector can be applied in another sector and throughout the world.
How can the Netherlands support the global efforts to maintain clean and productive oceans?

The Netherlands leads the way in water and delta technology. Dutch dredging companies are involved in projects across the globe. The Netherlands uses its public-private partnerships, ambassador networks, a myriad of development programmes to create solutions. Together we can achieve our mutual goals.

As a small country, the Netherlands needs to share ideas in order to have the impact we need to see. The Maritime Future is NOW. campaign helps maritime companies show how they are transitioning by providing them with ready-made materials to showcase Dutch industries in this sector.

We have the world’s best and most renowned Maritime and Water Sector. So let’s make it happen, and show the world how. At the same time, we need to help other countries realise their goals. The Netherlands is in a position to help them do that. Take the Maritime Masterplan to build 30 zero-emission vessels by 2030. The Netherlands is helping the world do that.

The Netherlands knows how to tackle the issues surrounding water safety and water security. Let’s start in the Netherlands, then share our solutions with the world. We know how to upscale land by building with nature, demonstrating the benefits of adapting to climate change. We feel obliged to share our knowledge because we have the technology and the know-how to solve some of today’s global challenges.

We feel obliged to share our knowledge because we have the technology and the know-how to solve some of today’s global challenges.

Get in touch and join us

Want to know more about how you can work together with the Netherlands to achieve your goals? Or how you can help contribute to or spread the word on campaigns, events and initiatives? Contact us directly at info@nlplatform.nl so we can help you connect to the right people.