About this theme

Much of the Netherlands is below sea level. That we still manage to keep our feet dry is due to a cleverly devised system of dikes, dunes and delta works. The Netherlands has a strong international reputation when it comes to delta technology. Dutch water professionals are involved in major national and international projects such as the construction of Maasvlakte 2, protecting New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and the construction of a storm surge barrier in St. Petersburg.

Within the NWO theme Water and Climate, climate scientists, hydrologists, oceanographers, civil engineers, information technologists, chemists and fluid mechanics experts are working together on research issues centred around water. Drinking water supplies and wastewater purification are vital for healthy living conditions. Water management ensures the prevention of both drought and flooding, allowing crops to be grown and enabling people to live in fertile delta areas. Understanding the influence of water, in the form of clouds and water vapour, on the climate is essential for making sensible predictions about future climate extremes. However, rising sea levels, responsible exploitation of the oceans, the preservation of biodiversity and modern nature conservation in our coastal seas are also important priority areas for research within the theme Water and Climate.

Top sector Water

The Dutch cabinet has designated nine top sectors in which the Netherlands is a world leader and in which the government will make targeted investments together with industry and researchers.

Research within the NWO theme Water and Climate generates knowledge that is important for the top sector Water. This top sector includes the three clusters Water Technology, Delta Technology and Maritime. Dutch knowledge and expertise in the area of these three clusters ranks among the best in the world. The activities of the top sector Water and the priority areas of the NWO theme Water and Climate are closely aligned with each other.

The Water Technology cluster focuses on water purification and sanitation, water use and irrigation, and water and energy. The scientific challenges here are mainly in the area of new technological developments, such as new bio-nanomaterials and biological innovations, as well as water purification by bacteria.

Within Delta Technology, the subject areas of water safety, eco-engineering (building with nature) and liveable delta offer opportunities for excellent innovative research.

In the Maritime cluster, the challenges are partly related to technology and physics (modern shipbuilding), and partly to ecology (deep sea mining). NWO research will considerably broaden the scientific basis for maritime activities.