Dredging Today Conference: “Sustainability Equals Business”

If there is one message that the speakers at the first Dredging Today Conference in Amsterdam on 9 & 10 October will bring across, it is that sustainability can bring business and that climate change holds incredible opportunities for the dredging and marine industry.

Femke Perlot-Hoogeveen, Conference Manager, is getting excited. “All the preparatory talks with the speakers have taken place and I am looking forward to a really great program. In less than two weeks we will welcome port authorities, dredging contractors, ship builders, engineering firms, analysts, governments and climate change experts who will share their views on what climate change can mean for the global dredging and marine industry. It can sound bitter, but both climate adaptation and climate mitigation bring millions if not billions worth of business opportunities across the world.”

Continue reading for an elaborate story about the Dredging Today Conference in Amsterdam on 9 & 10 October.

The conference will be chaired by Alexander Verbeek, Associate, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and World Fellow, Yale University.

Views from Asia and the Middle East

Khaled Iqbal

The opening keynotes session will start with a special guest: Rear Admiral M. Khaled Iqbal, Chairman of Chittagong Port Authority, Bangladesh. Rear Admiral Khaled will articulate his visions and strategic plans for Chittagong Port and will also address the overall prospect of dredging and port construction in Bangladesh.

Next is Richard Brakenhoff, Industry Analyst, Rabobank, who will share insights from Rabobank’s Dredging report which he has updated especially for the occasion of the Dredging Today Conference. According to Brakenhoff the dredging sector promises to be very busy in the near future. “Plans have already been submitted, but the stakeholders are waiting for the go-ahead. This and several other possible projects in the near future could be enormous, comparable to the Suez canal. If one of these gets green-lighted, this would mean a huge upturn for the industry.”

Following Brakenhoff, two representatives of dredging contractors will share their outlook and their views on future markets. They are John Mackenzie, Business Development Director, National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) and Maurice de Kok, Business Development Director, Van Oord.

Rob van Dorland


The first thematic session on Monday 9 October zooms in on climate change, what is really happening as a consequence of global warming and how this impacts dredging. Rob van Dorland, Senior Adviser Climate with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute KNMI will inform delegates on the latest insights on just how our climate is changing. Van Dorland: “We experience higher temperatures, more and intense rainfall, droughts, melting ice and sea level rise.”



Adapting to climate change

Societies are seeking ways to adapt to these changing circumstances. Mark van Zanten, Senior Project Manager Water, RoyalHaskoningDHV can tell what’s being done in South East Asia on climate adaptation and in particular flood risk management. Van Zanten, who has vast experience in coastal development projects and land reclamations in Europe, Africa and South-East Asia, has recently worked on the detailed design for the Pulau Tekong polder in Singapore. In his conference contribution, Van Zanten will speak on how Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines consider climate change in their land reclamation projects. According to Van Zanten sustainable land reclamation is vital in creating flood resilience for vulnerable coastal regions in South East Asia.

How marine contractors and shipbuilders respond to global challenges is what Sander Dekker, Sustainability Manager, Van Oord and Erik van der Blom, R&D Manager, Royal IHC will speak about. Dekker, who holds a number of board positions related to sustainability, will present his views on how the marine contracting industry should become more proactive in its response to climate change and work in new and sometimes unexpected partnerships. Van der Blom will present the view of the shipbuilder and equipment supplier. Royal IHC’s ship designs are continuously scrutinized and reducing the environmental footprint of dredging vessels and equipment has become one of the most important drivers of Royal IHC’s innovation program. The world’s first LNG-powered trailing suction hopper dredger for DEME was an industry milestone.

The route to adaptation financing

The conference continues on Tuesday 10 October with a very important topic: that of financing of climate adaptation. Sizable funds from international banks are available for projects that require dredging and marine contracting knowledge but there is a gap between the banks and the companies. Commerijn Plomp, World Bank and IFC private sector liaison officer

Commerijn Plomp

for the Netherlands, Netherlands Enterprise Agency will inform conference participants on what national governments can do to assist companies in their countries to become involved in climate adaptation projects financed by international financial institutions such as the World Bank.

Joining her in the session is Dick Konijn, Owner and CEO, ID Consultancy BV. Konijn is a unique man who knows both the world of dredging and of multilateral development banks. Owner of his own dredging company until 2009, Konijn is currently advisor to the World Bank on their new procurement policy. Konijn: “The World Bank’s Value-for-Money procurement framework policy will improve international quality standards with transparency and long term opportunities for contractors.”

Next on this topic is Louis Strydom, Business Development Manager, FMO – Dutch Development Bank. Where multilateral banks such as the World Bank generally hand out money to national governments, FMO is more involved in investments in companies. Strydom: “Climate adaptation is a reality. The marine and dredging industry provides core skills and infrastructure to help manage this.” Strydom will discuss key financial strategies to best position marine and dredging services within city development, adaptation and finance needs.

PIANC and adaptation action

In the same session delegates will also hear an update of initiatives coming from industry on climate adaptation. Ine Moulaert, Senior Engineer Marine Environmental Department, Jan De Nul is a Member of PIANC Working Group 178 on Climate Change Adaptation. This working group is currently developing a guidance document for climate change adaptations of ports and inland waterways. PIANC sees it as vital for the sector to coordinate globally and act locally to adapt waterborne transport infrastructure and the operations that depend on it to the changing climate. PIANC also wants to strengthen resilience, reducing the vulnerability of the sector to more frequent extreme events.

Dredging and climate mitigation

While climate adaptation projects can generate substantial business, so can projects that fall into the category of “climate mitigation”, i.e. directed at reduction or prevention of greenhouse gases emissions. In a special session, two speakers will look at developments in support of low carbon energy projects. Rob van der Hage, Manager North Sea Infrastructure, TenneT will share TenneT’s visions, most notable the “Hub and Spoke vision” for North Sea offshore wind energy. Jan Peters, Managing Director, Imotec will zoom in on hydropower, the challenges that hydropower sites can encounter related to sediment buildup and how dredging plays a key role in maintaining or restoring hydropower and reservoir capacity.

Staying in business

Gert-Jan Nieuwenhuizen

In the closing session Gert-Jan Nieuwenhuizen, Managing Director, Port of Amsterdam International, André van Hassent, Asset Manager Ports & Fairways, Port of Rotterdam and Olivier Marcus, Product Director Dredging, Damen Shipyards will make a couple of brief statements before they are joined by John Mackenzie of NMDC and Maurice de Kok of Van Oord who spoke in the opening session. Topics for discussion include: what do the panellists see around them, how are companies anticipating climate change and its effects? What do the panellists see as the most important strategies to stay in business – both in light of climate change and other industry developments?

Perlot-Hoogeveen: “The word “climate” in our conference theme Changing Climate, Resilient Business is as much about the globe we inhabit as it is about the societies and economies that the industry operates in. Both are changing and our speakers will address that. The conference participants that we look forward to welcoming in Amsterdam will come away with a thorough understanding of what climate change means for the world, the impact it has on their industry and what commercial impact it can have on their business.”

For more program and speaker information and to register, please visit www.DredgingConference.com