Speech by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, at the opening of the High Level Round Tables on Sustainable Urban Deltas, Stadion Energa Gdańsk, Gdansk

Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Mrs. Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, visited with a trade mission EU member state Poland. She was accompanied by 35 Dutch companies. Main topics of her visit were transport, in particular rail transport and inland shipping, and climate adaptation and water.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dzień dobry!

Today is the final stop on my three-day tour of Poland.
As a football fan, it’s great to be here in Lechia Gdańsk’s impressive stadium.

It reminds me of my own club, Feyenoord, which has been home to several Polish footballers over the years.
Like striker Wlodi Smolarek, whose son Ebi also played for us − both incredibly hardworking footballers with an eye for goal.
That’s the kind of mentality that’s welcomed in the Netherlands – especially in Rotterdam.

So the warm ties between the Netherlands and Poland are no coincidence.
We’ve talked a lot about that this week.
And we’ve put words into action. We want to strengthen those ties.
That’s why we’re here today.

This seminar is first and foremost about the future.
The immediate future.
What challenges lies ahead?
And how can we tackle them, together?

To put it in football terms: today is all about how we perform on the pitch as a team.
Not just little sideways passes but moving the ball towards the goal.
And scoring of course!

There are plenty of opportunities for working together.
Take transport, for instance: Poland and the Netherlands are both transport and logistics hubs.
We both have major ports that rely on good connections.

The Port of Gdansk is booming.
It reminds me of the Port of Rotterdam’s development over the years.
Here, too, port activities are moving away from the heart of the city to outer areas.

The question is: how do you make the port easily accessible?
How do you make sure it can grow in a sustainable way?
There are many opportunities for us to join forces and find solutions together.

Another challenge we both face is keeping our deltas safe.
Especially here in this low-lying Pomorskie region.
The Netherlands has centuries of experience in protecting its delta.
And it’s not just about rising sea levels.
Like us, you also have to control major rivers, like the Vistula.
So let’s learn from each other!

Our country has learned to provide room for the rivers – in a controlled way. This has proved more effective than constraining them with dykes and dams. Many of our companies and knowledge institutions would be happy to share their insights with you. So that you can benefit too.

Finally, I’d like to talk about climate adaptation and dealing with extreme weather.
Poland is on the same latitude as the Netherlands.
But it has more of a continental climate, so you have more experience of extreme downpours and high temperatures in the summer.
The Netherlands is keen to learn more about how you tackle these extremes.

I’m very interested in the project being carried out by the 40 biggest Polish cities to make them resilient to climate change in a relatively short space of time.
It’s great to see a Dutch company – Arcadis – involved in the plans.

Last summer made it clear that we need to adapt. In the Netherlands we had a long, hot, dry period.
And there were heavy local downpours.

Heat stress, salinisation and large volumes of rain: changes need to be made if we’re to deal with these challenges.

Climate adaption calls for new knowledge.
Nationally and internationally.
We already have a lot of know-how.
Now we need to spread it further.

That’s why the Netherlands has taken the initiative to set up a Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation.
Leading knowledge institutions, businesses, NGOs, and local and national authorities are joining forces on climate adaptation.

And we have a special moment to look forward to next week [on 16 October], when the Global Commission on Adaptation is launched.
I’m pleased with the big names that will be overseeing this commission, like former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; the founder of Microsoft – the world’s biggest software company – Bill Gates; and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva!
Like me, they underscore the importance of climate adaptation, especially the urgent action required.

I hope you’re going to hear a lot more from them.
They’re here for you!

COP 21 in Paris wasn’t only about mitigation and halting global warming by reducing carbon emissions. It was also – for the first time – about climate adaptation.
And to me that’s an essential addition.

I’m eagerly awaiting COP 24, which you’re hosting in Katowice in December.

It would be great to show the world how the Netherlands and Poland are working together!

Not only on climate adaptation, but in a variety of fields – from transport to safe deltas and from water security to water quality.

Let’s create chances and help each other score!

Good luck to you all.

Thank you.