Maritime by Holland: Fast forward and not rewind



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As a maritime country, the Netherlands has a number of major themes that fit in perfectly with the theme of this edition: ‘fast forward and rewind’. Let’s turn the text around for this column. Let us look at the past, and from there explain the present and the future. In doing so, we must be proud of our historical roots, but also look to the future with care.


In a large part of our country the population lives below sea level, which regularly surprised the population by the rising sea water. A threat that we have managed to turn into an opportunity over the centuries. An opportunity that has translated into worldwide expertise in the field of protecting urban areas against rising seas. Expertise that we have been successfully exporting all over the world for years.

Dutch Admiral Michiel de Ruyter was a naval hero who achieved remarkable successes during his many naval battles. With his remarkable tactics and clever use of natural elements, he managed to surprise friends and foes in the battles at sea. His success went hand in hand with the modernization of the war fleet, where experiences from the naval battles were directly translated into the new ship designs. We still do this to this day. Operational experiences of the Dutch navy are still directly translated into the design of the current naval fleet of the Netherlands.

The Netherlands also has a rich history when it comes to recreation on the water. When the water is frozen, we have our world-famous ‘Elfstedentocht’, 220 kilometers on ice-skates. But above all, we are also active and innovative within our recreational watersports sector. In which we have become the builder of the largest and most innovative mega yachts in the world. Soon, even yachts up to 160 meters will be built in the Netherlands. With these, the rich and wealthy, can sail proudly all over the world and show off our maritime innovative yachts.

So, the Dutch maritime sector has grown by learning from the past. Yet, we must realize we also should learn from our past mistakes. A past in which we, as a global maritime sector, have been very careless about our climate. The current maritime generation therefore faces an enormous task. The task of quickly and innovatively making our world more sustainable. As a Dutch maritime sector, we are prepared to take the leading role in this task, just as we have always done. This time, however, we cannot do it alone. Together we must unite to solve the global climate problem, only then can our children look ‘fast forward and not rewind’.

Wim van Sluis
Chariman Nederland Maritiem Land (Maritime by Holland)