The Netherlands can remain a leading player in earth science research

20 May 2011

Climate and water, natural disasters, energy, and shortages (of minerals, space and biological resources): these are the themes that will require a comprehensive approach from Dutch earth scientists in the coming period. In a recent report , the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences [KNAW] argued for a strengthening of the national knowledge infrastructure for the earth sciences.

Vital natural resources such as water, energy, raw materials and food are being researched by earth scientists, but natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions that pose a risk to society are also the subject of research. We expect earth scientists to provide insights into the ‘system earth' and to advance sustainable solutions for current and future problems relating to our survival on the planet.

Dutch earth scientists have an excellent international reputation. Thanks to cooperation with public authorities, the business community and public-private partnerships, the knowledge and insights gained also result in new products and services. This superior position must be maintained and improved where necessary. The recent KNAW report Agenda 2020: Perspective on earth sciences, describes the way in which this can best be organised.

The report designates four central themes for earth science research in the Netherlands, which are interrelated and require a comprehensive approach:

  • shortages of minerals, space and biological resources
  • energy supply/sustainable energy supply
  • climate and water
  • risks of natural disasters

Recommendations are being made to various parties with regard to education, research and infrastructure. Increased funding is also required for that purpose. On the basis of this report, the KNAW is requesting the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to put together a working group to detail an implementation plan.

The Agenda 2020: Perspective on earth sciences report has been drawn up by representatives of all sectors of Dutch earth science research.