Mayor Chen Chu’s Visit to the Netherlands / 陳菊市長參訪荷蘭
Mayor Chen Chu's Visit to the Netherlands
◎English written by Peng Hsin-yi ◎Photos by Lu Yi-ru, Hung Li-ching
On April 27, 2011, Mayor Chen Chu of Kaohsiung City began a nine-day tour of the Netherlands. Her goal was to get a greater understanding of the world famous water engineering and management systems. The delegation visited major cities which included Amsterdam and Rotterdam, among others.
Due to the fact a large portion of the Netherlands is below sea level, they have a great deal of experience dealing with floods and water management issues. The effects of climate change have had a tremendous impact on this coastal kingdom; however, water protection and management are the government's highest priorities. Taiwan's Maritime Capital, Kaohsiung also faces various environmental and water management issues；therefore, it is a great opportunity for Mayor Chen Chu to learn from the Netherlands. Like Kaohsiung, they too cherish water resource.
Mayor Chen visited the drinking water company Duinwaterbedrijf Zuid-Holland (DZH), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE), several solar-powered communities, floating houses in Amsterdam and Keukenhof Park, famously known as the Garden of Europe.
Mayor Chen also discussed the fact Taiwan is also facing some serious water issues. Her goal was to find solutions to its declining water resources, how to promote the use of rain water and how to develop sewage purification regulations. As climate change continues, water resources will continue to pose a real crisis. The Netherlands were found to be a great role model, considering how advanced they are in terms of water resource management and reclaiming technologies.
As Mayor Chen toured UNESCO-IHE, she pointed out the Netherlands is truly a leader in water management and clearly the world's most advanced in water engineering. She hopes to establish an ongoing relationship between Kaohsiung City and UNESCO-IHE with hopes of increasing Kaohsiung's proficiency in water management.
Mayor Chen believes Taiwan's water management requires dedication from both central and local governments. Land allocation policies should better respect water resources, the natural environment and the use of natural flood prevention.
The delegation's visit to Amersfoort was solar power focused, as it is a city which uses only renewable energies. Mayor Chen pointed out Kaohsiung enjoys year-round sunlight and is therefore an ideal environment for solar energy development. Kaohsiung is the first city in Taiwan to join the organization Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI). Efforts to lower the city's carbon footprint include plans to set up the new technology park. By utilizing renewable and sustainable energy, Kaohsiung will attract investors. This would further help the city's industrial reform and give rise to green energy industries.
The highlight of the visit was the trip to Keukenhof Park. This 32-hectare park is the biggest tulip park in the Netherlands and the world's biggest supplier of tulips. A large part of the Netherland's revenue is generated by the flower industry. This not only includes sales but a whole micro-economic system based on flower tourism. Tourists visiting the Netherlands during flower season contribute a significant amount to the GNP. Mayor Chen was impressed with the flower tourism concept and felt it was a great demonstration of the strength of this tertiary industry. She believes Kaohsiung could benefit a lot from the Netherland's initiatives. She was inspired by their greener city initiatives that will not only greater develop tourism, but also enhance the quality of life for its residents. She believes Kaohsiung has the potential to greater develop its tourist industry by using Netherland's great models.