Background Flemish-Dutch delta collaboration | Marine@Ugent

The Delta Collaboration Platform brings together expertise in the energy, water, and food sectors to deliver innovative solutions that will transform the way we use our Delta.

Background Flemish-Dutch delta collaboration

Phenomena such as climate change, sea level rise, variations in salinity and drought pose a serious threat both to nature and communities in regions like the Flemish-Dutch Delta where the Meuse, Scheldt and Rhine rivers all flow into the North Sea. If the need for higher dikes continues to increase, the coastal areas of Zeeland and Flanders will disappear behind walls. Salinization of the land will threaten traditional farming. In other words, the current way of living in the Delta will no longer be possible.

This makes the Delta an ideal place to study both the impacts of climate change and new approaches to manage them. By joining forces now, we can turn the tide.

Let us experiment with alternative agriculture on salt-affected land and see how traditional agriculture can adopt new working methods and aquaculture at sea. Similar transitions will be required for energy and water management. New technology needs to be developed to increase productivity and efficiency of energy production systems to meet the increasing demand for low- carbon energy. To enable smart water (re)use and the recovery of essential resources from various water flows, robust and disruptive technologies are needed.

As a ‘living lab’, the Flemish-Dutch Delta will unite researchers, companies, governmental bodies and the public. A research and education plan that focusses not only on innovative technical solutions, but also involves the general public is part of the project right from the start. The Delta Collaboration Platform aims to propose solutions that are legally, scientifically and socially sound.

As population density worldwide is highest in delta regions, the knowledge and expertise procured at the platform can be applied globally. Not only technical solutions can be deployed elsewhere, but also the understanding of why certain solutions work for one area and not another. Furthermore, it boosts the process of stakeholder involvement and social acceptance.

Ghent University and Campus Zeeland signed a cooperation agreement at a summit that brought together politicians from Flanders and the Netherlands to discuss a variety of diverse cross-border issues (5 November 2018, Middelburg). This cooperation brings together the business community, research institutions and governmental bodies around the Delta. They have a combined goal: strengthening local competitiveness and finding solutions to major societal problems such as climate change, sustainable food production and energy transition.

Working on smart delta solutions requires input from alpha, beta and gamma. Together they form delta sciences!
 

The Flemish-Dutch Delta provides a unique ‘living lab’ where integrated, safe and sustainable solutions for global issues related to water management, renewable energy and sustainable food production are developed. Uniting all stakeholders on these global issues is what will make the Flemish Dutch Delta a thriving, prosperous and climate robust region.

 

THE CHALLENGE

Traditionally, deltas like the Flemish-Dutch Delta, have been attractive for human settlement. After all, there are fertile (sea) clay soils and transport by water is easy. However, the downside of living near a delta has always been the flood risk. Think of the North Sea flood of 1953 in Zeeland, for instance. The continuous drive for technological advancement and coastal engineering around the Delta have made it the safest delta in the world, but there is an urgency for innovation.

Climate change and sea level rise make this Delta a unique area to invest in research and education on major societal and global challenges regarding water management and water safety, food and energy transition.

The Delta Collaboration Platform collaborates with the marine renewable energy and marine engineering sectors to develop devices that can withstand the offshore environment, are commercially viable and can deliver competitive energy solutions for offshore production systems. To meet the increasing demand for low-carbon energy, the platform also collaborates with various industries to test new concepts and technology to support this emerging value chain.

 

RESEARCH AIMS

To address this problem, the Delta Collaboration Platform unites marine engineering, aquaculture, water technology, marine renewable energy sectors and social scientists to innovate the region and the domestic production base by:
 

  • Developing technology to increase productivity and efficiency of production systems.
  • Harnessing engineering skills to re-think the infrastructure and operational requirements to operate offshore.
  • Achieving significant scales of production to reduce costs per unit.
  • Developing robust and disruptive technologies for enabling smart water (re)use and the recovery of essential resources from various water flows.
  • Considering lower environmental impact farming methods to reduce the incidence of disease, proactively avoid regulatory intervention and to preserve a market premium.
  • Focussing on species with a high profit margin that offset higher production, transport and maintenance costs.
  • Exploiting differences in taste, provenance and brand value to meet consumer demand for best quality and ethically produced products.
  • Exploring opportunities for co-location/shared infrastructure with aligned industries in order to finance the significant capital and operating costs of operating offshore.
     

 

PROGRAMMES

The Flemish-Dutch Delta is THE region to develop climate-proof solutions in the aforementioned fields of water, energy and food. Transitions are needed in terms of food production, energy production and sustainable and affordable water use for both industrial and private applications.
 

 

Unique selling points or Strong points


The Delta Collaboration Platform excels through:
 

  1. Cross-border approach

    We can only succeed by working together. A cross-border approach is key, Not only our target area crosses borders, but also the involved researchers, companies and public do so as well.
     
  2. Interdisciplinary

    The platform develops solutions through interdisciplinary research combining alpha, gamma and beta sciences. This guarantees that our solutions are not only up to the technical requirements, but that they are also socio-economically viable and culturally and legislatively acceptable.
     
  3. Public Support

    Smart, sustainable and inclusive strategies are needed to achieve the goals for the delta regions. By including alpha, gamma and beta scientists, the platform wants to give a voice to all stakeholders, industry representatives, public sector and policymakers alike.
     
  4. (Inter)national expertise

    An inclusive collaboration is the starting point of the Flemish-Dutch Delta Collaboration Platform. The platform ensures that the right expertise is included regardless of the geographical area. We want to create a climate in which potential negative competition is turned into positive collegiality.
     
  5. Task oriented approach

    The Delta Platform distinguishes itself from traditional steering paradigms in which institutes work independently on the same integral problem, its task-oriented approach. As such, the platform focusses on the task at hand and not on a specific team. Achieving stakeholder-supported solutions is the central goal in a task-oriented organization. Other elements are internal organization around assignments, integrated work, both internal and external, and a flexible organizational structure.
     
  6. The Flemish-Dutch Delta as a focal point of (inter) national knowledge

    The Flemish-Dutch Delta is the starting point for collaboration and cooperation. The Platform brings together relevant knowledge from in- and outside the region to find answers on delta related issues regarding water, food and energy. Uniting the knowledge and expertise is what makes the region attractive and creates a climate where possible negative competition is turned into positive collegiality.

 

PARTNERSHIP
 

Campus Zeeland and UGent are coordinators of Delta Platform, but partnerships are not limited to these institutes.

Campus Zeeland and Ghent University invite all relevant parties (universities, knowledge institutes, governments, companies, NGOs) in the Netherlands and Flanders interested in the topics to join forces. Together we can use Zeeland as a Living lab to develop solutions for the challenges ahead.

 

Would you like to know more about Delta Platform or do you have questions regarding a potential partnership, please contact

  • The Netherlands: Louise
  • Belgium: Sara