Word of welcome by the State Secretary of Infrastructure and the Environment, Joop Atsma, seminar on Coastal Zone Management and Dike Design

Vietnam en Nederland hebben als deltalanden veel verwantschap en bundelen steeds sterker hun krachten in het waterbeheer. Dat maakte staatssecretaris Atsma duidelijk tijdens zijn bezoek aan Vietnam, van 28 tot 31 maart 2011.

Mr. Hoc, Mr. Kim, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a privilege to welcome you to this seminar on coastal zone management and dike design.

We have seen the terrible human suffering and destruction in Japan, after the tsunami. The forces of nature can be very strong. Sometimes they are too strong for us.
But there is a lot we can do to reduce the chances of a disaster to a minimum.

As State Secretary of Infrastructure and the Environment, I am responsible for water policy and flood protection in the Netherlands.
A fascinating job!

Water knows no borders.
It strikes me how much our countries have in common.
That is why Vietnam is a preferred partner for us.

We both lie in deltas with large rivers.
We both have long coastlines.
In both our countries millions of people live and work in potential flood areas.
Dams, dikes and smart spatial planning are crucial to protect them.
And to protect our economy.

The sea level along our coasts is rising.
Our rivers carry more water in the wet season.
And in the dry season, we face a lack of water.
Salt water intrusion is a growing threat for our farmers.

Vietnam has an ambitious agenda for adaptation and protection measures.
Vice minister Hoc is developing a revolutionary approach for the coastal zone in central and southern Vietnam.
We are very interested to hear more about the concepts you have developed.

As you know, the Netherlands has a long tradition of water management.
Our ancestors have been ‘water managers’ for almost one thousand years. Innovation is our core business.

We have learned how to keep our feet dry with infrastructure and engineering.
With storm surge barriers and sluices. With intelligent dikes, containing sensors that monitor their stability.

And we have learned to ‘build with nature’. To find solutions in which Mother Nature lends a helping hand.

For example, we are reinforcing our coastline by creating a natural ‘Sand Engine’. We are depositing millions of cubic meters of sand in the shape of a large hook, extending from our coast. In the future, wind and waves will spread this sand along the coast, making it stronger.
We benefit from the forces of nature.
With this approach, the Netherlands is a front runner.

This seminar is an excellent opportunity to exchange views and to discuss our future cooperation.
I have brought the best water experts from the Netherlands with me.

Vietnam and the Netherlands join forces.
I know that together we can find the best solutions.

Later this morning, I will attend the first meeting of our Intergovernmental Committee on Adaptation.
So, Mr. Hoc, I will only be able to attend the first session of this seminar.
I wish you all a very good meeting.

Thank you.