30 Sep 2011
In the week of 19 September NGInfra was honoured with a visit by Tang Jie, the Vice-Mayor of Shenzhen. This city of over fourteen million inhabitants is seeking to work together with the Netherlands on the development of a low-carbon zone. Contacts have now taken place at ministerial level, arising from the pioneering work of Next Generation Infrastructures. Last year, at the instigation of the Longgang district of Shenzhen, Margot Weijnen and Martin de Jong took the initiative to write a master plan, ‘Developing a Special ECO-2-Zone at the intersection of three cities’. It was well received and led Shenzhen to set up a government-to-government (G2G) partnership.
The NGInfra Programme Office coordinated and fleshed out the details of a large part of the programme. The fifteen members of the delegation discussed the partnership at the Ministries of Infrastructure & the Environment and Economic Affairs, Agriculture & Innovation. The Chinese also met a Rotterdam alderman and the Mayor of Delft and visited Brainport Eindhoven. On top of this they took a boat trip round the Amsterdam canals while eating herring – but not before they had been to Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district, where they talked to the Alderman for Economic Affairs on underground infrastructures and a sustainable heating system for this dynamic area of the city.
Professor Tang Jie was very impressed by the simulations and research results presented by the Delft research team. He would like to see a ‘special college’ of TU Delft and Next Generation Infrastructures, providing research and Bachelor’s and Master’s degree courses, set up in his city. A centre of expertise of this kind could lend the G2G partnership a concrete identity and act as a knowledge hub from which projects, knowledge and inspiration could spring. Actually putting this into practice is a tremendous challenge, but inspirational Vice-Mayor Tang, scattering his gems of Chinese wisdom, primarily sees possibilities here: ‘If you can’t climb the mountain you just have to move it.’ After which he jested: ‘Your country doesn’t have any mountains, so the partnership will work well.’