Fourth NKWK Knowledge Conference: from paper to practice

The Fourth Knowledge Conference of the National Water and Climate Knowledge and Innovation Programme (NKWK) on 17 April 2018 was attended by more than 450 water professionals and water students from all over the Netherlands. This year’s venue was the campus of Wageningen University & Research Centre, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, and this year’s theme was From paper to practice. ‘Interlinking research and practice takes a lot of energy,’ Delta Programme Commissioner Wim Kuijken stated during the conference. ‘Our National Water and Climate Knowledge and Innovation Programme gives the Netherlands a head start in tackling the major water issues of our times.’

Under the National Water and Climate Knowledge and Innovation Programme (NKWK) – closely intertwined with the Delta Programme – government bodies, research institutes, and businesses collaborate on pilot projects, current issues, and long-term developments related to water management and the climate. Roeland Allewijn (Rijkswaterstaat), NKWK programme manager and day chair, kicked off by stating that the NKWK programme, which has been running for more than three years now, is going full steam ahead. ‘We are really taking the step from paper to practice. Which means that more and more, we are dissociating ourselves from our “own water world” and connecting with other sectors and businesses.’ In her address, Louise O. Fresco, Chair of the Governing Board of Wageningen University & Research Centre, also made a case for an integrated approach to water issues. ‘Sustainable answers to water and climate issues require interconnectivity. It is time for the big picture, that actually affects every Ministry, and calls for long-term stability and collaboration.’

Adaptation and mitigation

As a token of appreciation for her personal commitment and the 100th anniversary of Wageningen University and Research Centre, Delta Programme Commissioner Wim Kuijken presented Louise O. Fresco with a symbolic blue vase. ‘Collaboration, research, and knowledge are indispensable when it comes to issues such as global warming, the rising sea level, peak downpours, coastal behaviour, and salt intrusion. Adaptation and mitigation are two major taskings. We need one another to tackle such issues. Uncertainties will remain, by definition. But join forces, and accommodate such uncertainties in your adaptation strategies.’

After the plenary opening session, the agenda featured substantive sub-sessions on topics such as climate proofing and climate adaptation, river knowledge, smart water management, and the National Water Model. For the first time, this year’s luncheon was followed by field trips to various locations, including the climate-proof city of Renkum, the natural improvement of the Grebbe dyke, and the green-blue climate adaptation projects in Nijmegen.

Students

‘As attendance has outstripped that of last year’s conference, it is obvious that the National Water and Climate Knowledge and Innovation Programme is going strong,’ Delta Programme Commissioner Wim Kuijken commented afterwards. ‘People have found one another and are joining forces to pursue solutions. This year, we were pleased to welcome nearly 40 university students as well, the water managers of the future.’

In a few days’ time, a comprehensive (video) report on the Fourth NKWK Knowledge Conference will be available on www.waterenklimaat.nl.