Published in: Strategy+Business / Author: Bobbie van der List
The Dutch turned adversity into a compelling economic opportunity. Other countries could do the same. Lisette Heuer, global director of flood resilience, Royal HaskoningDHV explains how this came to be.
“The Netherlands is a true laboratory for innovation,” says Lisette Heuer, global director of flood resilience for Royal HaskoningDHV. “We try out ideas, and if they work here, we can explore applying similar solutions in other countries provided a fit with local context.” At the same time, she says, the close connection with local stakeholders is critical. “
The Dutch are well positioned to benefit economically from adversity. As Heuer points out, in the 2018 World Economic Forum Global Risks Report (pdf), four out of the five threats rated high in both likelihood and impact had a direct link to water. (These were extreme weather events, natural disasters, failure to adapt to climate change, water crises, and cyberattack.) As business and government leaders become aware of the dangers of ignoring these risks, they become much more sensitive to the value of proactive, preventive solutions to their potential water problems.
“Throughout the business world,” Heuer says, “interest is growing. For example, many companies are asked to visualize their water risks in an end-of-year report and to include them in their financial balance.” The same concerns are evident in the way insurance companies evaluate the risks in their portfolios.
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