On Wednesday 21 September, several KWR researchers headed to Terschelling to take part for the first time in the Springtij Forum. Springtij attracts professionals and students from virtually all sectors who gather to help accelerate the sustainability transitions in the Netherlands. The forum’s theme this year was ‘Staying on course in high waves’. How did the researchers experience the event? And what insights did it give them? You can read all about it in this blog.

Water on the sustainability agenda

The water theme was again this year a prominent part of the event. There is even a multi-annual (2022-2024) programme, ‘In balans met water’ (In balance with water), which has been set up to integrate the water transition more fully into the future of a sustainable Netherlands. The programme is founded on three pillars: the revaluation of water, guidance by water and water sector stakeholders.

The water transition was well embedded in a session by Vitens, the Vallei and Veluwe Water Authority, Evides, the University of the Arts, the Nederlandse Waterschapsbank and the Stichtse Rijnlanden Water Authority, in partnership with students of the Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences. They organised a workshop on the value paradox in times of drought. Through the ‘Diamond or Water’ game, the participants could themselves personally experience the dilemmas surrounding water use. It became apparent, on the one hand, how choices between individual and collective action can impact the drinking water provision, while, on the other, climatic factors can have significant consequences for the production of drinking water. This production after all depends on the availability and quality of the groundwater, rainwater, surface water and wastewater. It became clear that the entire water cycle – and external actors – will (necessarily) be managed with a view to protecting ecological systems, preventing pollution, and ensuring there is sufficient clean and safe drinking water.

It was nice to see that water was also present, although more metaphorically, in the inspiring work of Carlijn Kingma and others, in which the relationship between the organisation of our money system and the ever-growing inequality is mapped out and . There were in addition water-related sessions on hydrogen, leadership in transition in the water sector, farmers and flood waters, and the relationship between humans and nature. The sessions that did not specifically concern the water sector took the KWR researchers out of their habitual thinking environment and were, partly for this reason, seen as very valuable. Springtij is the perfect place to step away from one’s own frameworks and to draw inspiration from other sectors. An additional benefit was that the event greatly stressed inclusivity and equity – which also kept the researchers very focussed.


The researchers generally experienced Springtij as an interesting event with inspiring lectures and working sessions, and opportunities for meeting and sharing knowledge with professionals from a wide range of public and private sector organisations.

Springtij’s unique setting, on an island surrounded by nature, offers those attending a special experience. Since, as a participant, you are removed from your normal environment, there is plenty of room for inspiration and creativity. Art and culture also play an important role at Springtij. In this context, many substantive lectures were supported for instance by the Utrecht close harmony Dekoor and singer-songwriter Nynke Laverman. In this manner, not only heads but also hearts and feelings were touched. These experiences have already generated a new exploratory research proposal in the ‘Customer’ theme group, concerning the role that art and culture can play in conveying information and bringing about change in behaviour.

Will KWR also be attending in 2023?

In light of the contents of the programming, it was clear that KWR’s knowledge and research can provide a valuable complement to this event. To us, our participation in the forum is therefore definitely relevant, and we would even advocate that KWR contribute to the programme by organising one or more sessions, whether or not in partnership with clients or outside colleagues. Several of our clients – Evides and Vitens – and outside colleagues – Deltares, universities – have already actively participated in the event’s programming. Since drinking water issues are attracting increasing public attention, KWR cannot afford to be absent at next year’s forum. After all, solving many of these issues – energy, circularity, food – calls for broad collaboration, which Springtij can accelerate.