The Netherlands to share low-carbon expertise
The Netherlands will be the Country of Honor of the 2022 Pujiang Innovation Forum, the year marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The Netherlands, which is roughly 6.55 times as big as Shanghai, is one of the most developed and innovative countries in the world. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization's Global Innovative Index, the Netherlands ranked sixth among the world's most innovative countries last year, while China stood at 12th.
It performed very well in terms of government effectiveness, regulatory quality, business climate, knowledge absorption, logistical performance and online inventiveness. The northwestern European country is widely acknowledged as a global leader in cutting-edge technologies such as agriculture, life science and smart manufacturing.
A densely populated country, it places a high priority on addressing environmental concerns.
According to the office of the Netherlands Innovation Network at the Consulate General of the Netherlands, "the Netherlands is a global frontrunner for innovation, providing dedicated platforms and a devoted community for developing, introducing and growing low-carbon solutions."
The Dutch Climate Act commits the country to decrease carbon emissions to zero by 2050. One of the top government priorities for this year is to outline new ways to minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, the Netherlands is aiming to transition to alternative energy sources for transportation and heating. Solar energy, onshore wind energy, offshore wind energy, biomass energy, geothermal heat and hydropower are all viable alternatives.
It corresponds to the theme of this year's Pujiang Innovation Forum, "Low Carbon: A New Mission for Global Innovation."
"The Netherlands has a strong affinity with this theme and is therefore pleased to assume this year's Country of Honor position. Many of the challenges that the world faces today are related to energy and climate issues, and many of these can be attenuated through renewable, low carbon energy solutions," according to the Netherlands Innovation Network.
"The climate agendas of China and the EU support a key role for the Netherlands in realizing the sustainability transitions of the two largest economic spaces in the world."
During the forum, the Netherlands will hold an Energy Dialogue Seminar, with speakers from China and Europe providing perspectives on energy production and use, ranging from low-carbon power generation to transit, storage, consumption, and recycling of green energy.
It will also host a water technology event with a focus on sustainable water technology innovation and Sino-Dutch collaboration.
Bilateral cooperation agreements will be signed at the forum.
The two countries have collaborated on technology and innovation in a wide range of areas, including climate change, modern agriculture and sustainable development.
The Dutch Research Council works closely with China's Ministry of Science and Technology, as well as organizations such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Natural Science Foundation. The two governments funded research into local energy systems last year.
Not surprisingly, Chinese high-tech firms have picked the Netherlands as a preferred European location for their operations. Meanwhile, Dutch companies are investing in China. Multinationals such as Philips, Signify, DSM and AkzoNobel have significant R&D centers in China to support their global operations.
"The Netherlands, as part of the EU, and China can take the responsibility to resolve shared global challenges. The Pujiang Innovation Forum is a tribute to our joint ambitions, where we rise above our differences, and position sustainability solutions as a common goal," according to the Netherlands Innovation Network.
Cees Buisman is a professor of Environmental Technology at Wageningen University and a scientific director and board member of Wetsus, a European center of excellence for sustainable water technology. At the forum, Wetsus will try to secure strategic cooperation with China, and Buisman will deliver the keynote speech. Shanghai Daily spoke to him ahead of the forum.
Q: The United Nations estimates that the world's population could increase to nearly 10 billion in the middle of the century. Is it possible for so many people to exist together on the Earth?
A: Population growth is stabilizing slowly, and in the richer areas of the world, the population will even shrink in the coming years.
There is a direct link between poverty and population growth. Many reports show that 20 percent of the world population uses 80 percent of all resources. It is clear that not everyone can live as the rich do. There are not enough resources in the world for a Western lifestyle. The poor economies should grow and solve poverty. The rich economies should realize they have enough.
Q: The Netherlands is aiming for a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy. Can you tell us about some of the cutting-edge technologies applied in your country?
A: You probably already know about saving energy through energy efficiency and heat-cold insulation, or new energy production by the sun and wind. Our plan is to make energy by mixing fresh and salt water. We call it "blue energy," and it could produce 20 percent of all the electricity in the Netherlands.
Q: For less-developed countries, which are still struggling to get rid of poverty, how can they be encouraged to join the global act to go greener?
A: Less developed countries should first focus on getting rid of poverty. It is difficult to become green when you have hunger. Secondly, reforestation is essential. It will cool the Earth and put the water cycle at ease. The rich world should help to implement that.
Q: Could you throw some light on your speech and the cooperation agreement between Wetsus and China?
A: My speech will focus on sustainable innovation, how to make innovation as efficient as possible. We created a model based on multidisciplinary cooperation and a trust-based system for integration with commercial and public companies.
Several Chinese companies have joined the Wetsus partnership. We are now trying to figure out how we can cooperate more with China, such as the possibility of launching a sister institute of Wetsus in a Chinese city, preferably in the Yangtze River Delta region. This could become Wetsus China.
To bring Wetsus closer to China, we will initiate an art/science project called "water museum." It can bring different cultures together and also integrate art and science. We believe that art can bring frontier scientific innovations closer to society and also increase the value of new technologies. Our art project is an active living museum for the future development of water technology. We hope that more than 30 art/science projects will be realized in the next several years. These can be displayed at the water museum, both in the Netherlands and China.