Report on Dutch Infrastructure on North and South pole

14 March 2018

Strengthen the Netherlands’ scientific infrastructure in the polar regions; strengthen and support Dutch polar research by establishing a Dutch Polar Research Institute. This requires a larger budget for the Netherlands Polar Programme and long-term securing of funds for the polar infrastructure. This is the core message of the advice from the Committee Polar Infrastructure.

The advice committee presented its report in March 2018, commissioned by NWO. The committee presents alternative scenarios for financing and managing the Netherlands’ polar infrastructure. The commission recommends to continue the existing scientific infrastructure on Antarctica after 2020. This concerns the Dirck Gerritsz laboratory at the British research station Rothera in Antarctica. The committee further recommends to invest in new research facilities for the Netherlands Arctic Station on Svalbard, located in the North Pole region. The Netherlands’ polar infrastructure is currently under pressure by uncertainty over the continuation of financing for the Netherlands Polar Program post-2020.

International agreements
The commission further recommends that collaboration agreements with international partners British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Great Britain and the Alfred-Wegener Institute (AWI) in Germany should be strengthened. The Netherlands Program relies on logistical support from other countries as the Netherlands has limited own polar infrastructure. The ‘Memoranda of Understanding’ that Netherlands has signed with AWI and BAS unlock crucial polar infrastructure for the Dutch polar research community. Through these agreement Dutch scientists have access to polar icebreaker, research stations, airplanes and are involved in large international research projects in the polar regions. 

Further investments
Currently, our partnering countries United Kingdom and Germany are investing hundreds of millions euros into new icebreakers and modernisation of their research stations. The committee recommends that the Netherlands invests in her polar research infrastructure and thereby maintain the strong position of the Netherlands in the polar research field and thereby contributes to the international polar research infrastructure that benefits the Netherlands Polar Programme. These international partnerships allow the Netherlands to develop a powerful polar research program with relative limited means and modest national polar infrastructure.

The recommendations of the committee will further strengthen the demonstrated and internationally acknowledged excellent Dutch polar research. Thereby the Netherlands maintains their reputation as international important ‘climate party’, secures the scientific and political influence of the Netherlands in the polar regions and keeps their commitments to international agreements on the North and South polar regions.

The commission consisted of Robert Blaauw (chair) Corina Brussaard, Renuka Badhe, Rinus Wortel, Theo Elzenga and Erica Koning.

Dirck Gerritsz laboratoryDirck Gerritsz laboratory

Source: NWO