The Hague, city of peace and justice.
The Hague has an international reputation of being the city of peace and justice. The Hague is home to many businesses, institutions, and other organisations that take on global challenges and contribute to peace all over the world. Many of these challenges are also relevant for The Hague itself. The Hague must ensure that its international reputation is also felt by the people within our city.
The Hague is expected to grow, by around 5,000 citizens per year. The city’s growing population and the growing challenges that our cities face, raise new questions. How do we respond to a digital economy and the impact of climate change? And how do cities ensure that all those people live in harmony with each other and participate in society? These and other questions are relevant for many cities worldwide. The Hague is no exception. The Hague’s Resilience Strategy describes the challenges for The Hague and the opportunities to increase the resilience of the city. These opportunities are in the field of climate adaptation, ensuring an inclusive and cohesive society, increasing the risk awareness of residents and strengthening the resilience to cyber attacks. These opportunities are interconnected.
Urban resilience is part of The Hague’s DNA. As a coastal city, we are aware of the challenges that our environment gives us. The sea forms a natural border to our city, so in order to house a growing population we must invest heavily into the already built environment. At the same time, this should not be at the cost of our green areas as they are such an important element for the livability of our city.
Now, with The Hague’s first Resilience Strategy, the City is advancing a comprehensive, actionable roadmap that builds upon these and other efforts to ensure that integrated solutions maximize benefits for all inhabitants of The Hague. With the input of stakeholders spanning the CRF, this led to selection of the 41 initiatives that comprise this Strategy. Core to all initiatives is the aim to achieve multiple goals from a single investment and promote integration across traditional silos.
Ensuring a connected and inclusive and just society in The Hague.
To make our city resilient we must address a number of current and emerging social challenges. Our diagnostic work strongly indicated that we must recognize that some of our residents struggle to meet basic needs and have limited capacity or resources to handle acute shocks or cope with chronic stresses. Building social resilience is about promoting cohesive neighborhoods and communities where people know and help each other. In good times, these social ties are an important source for pleasure in life; in adverse times, they are an unmissable resource to overcome setbacks.
It is also critically important to build cohesion between different groups in society. To reduce segregation we must encourage that people meet and engage with people from different parts of our city, as well as people of different cultures, nationalities, capacities, values, social classes or age.
We need to promote equality of opportunity for all children and make sure that all our citizens – especially our most vulnerable – can locate the many sources of support our city has to offer.
The Hague must strengthen its cyber resilience while ensuring that all our citizens have access to the benefits of digitisation.
New technologies are changing our cities society and economy. This comes with great opportunities but also with risks.
Over the last couple of decades, The Hague has lagged behind in growth of jobs and citizens compared to other large cities in The Netherlands. The Hague’s economy recovered relatively slowly after the recent economic crisis (the period after 2010). The Hague’s economic structure is relatively one-sided, and therefore more vulnerable.
The number of jobs has not kept up with population growth. Economic and technological developments such as digitization require us to innovate. We must ensure that people, especially our youngest generation, and companies are prepared for a new economy. That is why we have to invest in learning digital skills that are needed in daily life. New technologies have the greatest added value when everyone can use them. To ensure the digital literacy of our future workforce, more attention must be paid to ICT skills in primary and secondary education. Companies need to be aware of the risks of digitization. In particular, small and medium-sized businesses can take steps to improve digital resilience and business continuity.
Climate proofing The Hague while creating social benefits.
The sea level is rising. That is why we invested heavily in our coastal reinforcement over the past decade. At present, our coastal defense meets the standards until 2050. Nevertheless, due to the rising sea level, we must keep our knowledge up to date and continue to pay attention to the safety and the sea defenses. Besides rising sea levels, The Hague’s main climate risks relate to extreme events like heatwaves, heavy rainfall, and drought. The Hague’s infrastructure is built to withstand unruly weather; however, climate change creates a new normal characterized by unpredictability. We must keep working to make our city robust to weather conditions that are more extreme or prolonged. This is complicated by several factors. First of all, over 60% of The Hague is private property. This limits the possibilities of local government to act and means public-private cooperation is essential for climate-proofing our city. Secondly, climate adaptation will take a considerable amount of financial resources. The city must support its interventions with a strong evidence base, explore innovative financing approaches, and collaborate with public and private stakeholders to innovate. By realizing multiple benefits, some of the best climate proofing interventions contribute to the quality of our city on every day of the year.
Helping individuals and families to increase their capacity to respond to shocks and stresses.
Ensuring citizens understand key risks and how to respond is crucial for resilience. By promoting risk-aware behaviors such as contingency planning and checking on neighbors, citizens and businesses become better equipped to help themselves and each other. This unlocks much needed capacity for response agencies to help those who cannot help themselves. Risk awareness and emergency preparedness is not only about people. We should also make sure that our systems, especially those that are critical for the functioning of our society, are robust to shocks. Protecting critical systems must be organized in close collaboration between private providers – which manage about 80% of Dutch critical infrastructure and services – knowledge institutions, local governments and the National Government.
Partner across our region, the Netherlands and the world to tackle shared resilience challenges that transcend borders.
Solving complex urban challenges requires collaborating with multiple partners. To deliver these multi-stakeholder solutions, the The Hague must increase its already strong focus on seeking out partnerships across public and private sectors. When implementing the initiatives in this strategy we should strive to think and act as one. The 100RC Network offers great opportunities to engage in collaborative partnerships with Rotterdam and other global resilience leaders. By working together, the whole region will benefit from one another’s increased resilience. The Hague’s ongoing journey to become an even more resilient city requires us to be humble. We have a great deal of experience we can share with other cities in our region and the world, but also we must be ready to learn – from other cities, from different sectors, and of course from our own resilient and innovative citizens.