Rli commences five new advisory processes

The Rli presented its work programme for 2020-2021 to the Dutch House of Representatives in December last year and has now commenced several new advisory processes. We summarise them below.

1. Advisory report ‘Digitisation and the transition to a sustainable society’

The ongoing process of digitisation will bring about fundamental changes in our society but scarcely addresses the issue of sustainability. For now, digital technology contributes mainly to efficiency and growth in existing markets, but there are signs that the way in which digital technology is currently developing will exacerbate problems associated with sustainability.

The advisory report ‘Digitisation and the transition to a sustainable society’ will focus on the significance of digitisation for the transition to a sustainable living environment. In its advisory process, the Council is emphasising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which the Netherlands has subscribed and that relate specifically to the living environment. The main question that it will be addressing is: ‘How are digitisation and sustainability transitions related, and what possible, necessary and effective role can government play to ensure that digitisation contributes to the necessary transition to a sustainable society?’

The advisory report is scheduled to be issued in late 2020.

Read more about the advisory report ‘Digitisation and the transition to a sustainable society’

For more information, contact Bart Swanenvleugel, project leader, bart.swanenvleugel.nl

2. Advisory report ‘International accessibility of the Netherlands by rail’

The Netherlands has a well-functioning domestic railway network for passenger transport, but, with a few exceptions, train connections to and from other countries leave much to be desired. Travel times are too long, connections are poor, purchasing tickets is difficult and prices are high. These and other problems are due to a number of factors that hinder the international accessibility of the Netherlands by rail. The problems go beyond missing connections and technical or physical limitations in the infrastructure; there are also ‘soft’ factors that hinder better accessibility, such as a lack of available travel information, problems with international ticketing, pricing, incompatible international regulations, and an unwillingness to cooperate. In this advisory report, the Council will focus on accessibility for passenger transport.

In responding to the request for advice, the Council will address the following main question: How can obstacles that stand in the way of better rail access to and from the Netherlands be removed?

The Council anticipates issuing its report in July 2020.

Read more about the advisory report ‘International accessibility of the Netherlands by rail’

For more information on the advisory report, contact Tim Zwanikken, project leader, tim.zwanikken@rli.nl

3. Advisory report ‘Hydrogen policy’

Hydrogen can help to make the Dutch economy more sustainable in two ways: as an energy carrier and as a raw material for industry. The Climate Agreement, the Climate Plan and scenarios in various sectors all attribute an important role to hydrogen. Hydrogen is also attracting a great deal of attention internationally, as evidenced by the many strategies, vision documents, reports and investments by governments and global businesses. Hydrogen has enormous potential.

In the Netherlands, hydrogen is currently extracted from natural gas and used extensively as a raw material. Because hydrogen is more expensive than electricity and fossil fuels, it is hardly ever used as an energy carrier. However, prices are expected to fall and hydrogen is forecast to play a major role in the four sectors of industry, in our energy supply, in the built environment and in mobility by around 2050.

The advisory report will focus on the following question: What are the realistic prospects of hydrogen serving as a raw material and/or as an energy carrier in a sustainable Dutch economy, and what efforts will be required on the part of national government and others in that regard?

The aim is to finalise this advisory report in June 2020.

Read more about the advisory report ‘Hydrogen policy’

For more information on the advisory report, contact Folmer de Haan, project leader, f.w.dehaan@rli.nl

4. Advisory report ‘Soil subsidence in the peat meadows of the Green Heart’

Soil subsidence is occurring in many parts of the Netherlands, and particularly in areas covered by peat meadows. Although subsidence has been taking place for centuries, it has intensified over the past hundred years owing to water level drawdown and scale economies. The rate of subsidence is far from negligible; in fact, in some places the soil is subsiding by a few centimetres a year. Soil subsidence leads to numerous problems. For example, infrastructure and buildings subside, peat oxidation produces carbon emissions, and the quality of the water and soil biodiversity deteriorate. It also has an adverse impact on the use of agricultural land. The usual remedy, i.e. lowering the groundwater level, is not universally tenable in the long term. The Climate Agreement also stipulates that carbon dioxide emissions, including those from peat meadows, must be drastically reduced.

The request for advice asks the following questions: What material and organisational choices must be made in relation to the adverse impact of soil subsidence in the peat meadows of the Green Heart area, given the various possible soil subsidence strategies (or combinations thereof) and how this issue relates to other challenges and demands in the area? Who is responsible for making and implementing those choices? And what role does the national government have to play?

The advisory report is scheduled to be issued in the summer of 2020.

Read more about the advisory report ‘Soil subsidence in the peat meadows of the Green Heart’

For more information about this advisory report, please contact Lianne van Duinen, project leader, lianne.vanduinen@rli.nl

5. Advisory report ‘Access to the city’

The Council has commenced an advisory process on access to what cities have to offer, viewed from the perspective of the physical environment: urban living (the built environment, housing, quality of life in neighbourhoods), transport (access to places of work and education) and amenities in public spaces that make encounters with others possible.

There are various signs that cities are under pressure because such access is not the same for every group. Waiting lists for social housing are growing longer all the time. The number of homeless people is rising sharply and their backgrounds are more diverse. Low and middle-income groups, such as teachers, nurses, taxi drivers, cleaners and policemen, have trouble finding housing across increasingly larger urban areas. Other neighbourhoods are seeing a concentration of underprivileged residents and residents who have problems. In addition, public facilities such as libraries and welfare services have been scaled down in recent years.

The main question is: To what extent do groups differ in the degree of access they have to housing, transport and public space in our cities, are the differences between them increasing, is that a problem, and how can it be managed?

The advisory report is scheduled to be issued in autumn 2020.

Read more about the advisory report ‘Access to the city’

For more information about this advisory report, please contact Douwe Wielenga, project leader, douwe.wielenga@rli.nl