A few things stand out. To start with nature: the Netherlands in 2120 has much more forest and much more water than the Netherlands today. The basins of rivers are wider to better accommodate high water peaks. Along the rivers and around the cities we find green buffers. They provide an attractive landscape, increase biodiversity, provide cooling and increase recreational opportunities.
The amount of agricultural land is in 2120 halved to half what is now. Agriculture focuses on fertile clay soils, such as in Groningen, Friesland and the IJsselmeer polders. The production in the livestock sector is only one third of the current production. Thanks to technology, crops are better protected against diseases and climate change. Mussels, oysters and seaweed are produced around sun and wind farms in the sea. There are also insects on the menu.
The population growth, from nearly 17.5 million now to 20 million in 2100, is largely absorbed in medium-sized, partly new cities in the southern and eastern Netherlands.
To protect against rising sea levels, the row of dunes along the North Sea is widened and sand replenishment is carried out. That should suffice with an increase of 1.5 meters at the end of this century.
Sketch, not a blueprint
Van Hattum emphasizes that the report is not a blueprint, but a sketch that provides direction for the long term. “Politics is working on short-term solutions, as we see in tackling the nitrogen crisis. We want to invite all parties, including agriculture, to think about the long term and start the conversation.”
The report was presented at a conference shortly before Christmas. Van Hattum is satisfied with the reception. “People from the ministries were there too. They showed a lot of interest.”