The Netherlands has a lot to offer to the world. We have a perfect business climate, leading universities and an excellent physical and digital infrastructure. Our culture is as open and inviting as it is economically and politically stable, and our reputation as Europe’s best logistical hub is the envy of the world. As a country we offer organisations of every kind a fully comprehensive package. The quality of life seamlessly connects with the services they provide and with the housing, cultural and educational requirements of all personnel. There is no doubt that the Netherlands has an excellent starting position in terms of safeguarding prosperity and economic growth in the future. That said, we will have to let our ambitions run free and avoid being overcautious if we are to prepare ourselves for what the fourth industrial revolution will bring. Our fragmented approach to management prevents the Netherlands from reaping the rewards of agglomeration, and therefore likely from staying relevant in the decades to come.
One of the preconditions for most countries – to be able to compete internationally and to become one of the world’s top-10 competitive regions – is the willingness and capacity to up-scale operations in general. In the Netherlands we can only achieve this if we are prepared to aim higher, for example by developing the Randstad and transforming it into a prime example of what a city should look like during the fourth industrial revolution. The Netherlands as the Gateway to Europe. This requires a new approach. It requires a centralised, overarching management programme for strategic policy domains such as quality of life, infrastructure, housing development and work location. Boosting the economic climate in the western part of our country will benefit the whole country. After all, the multiplier effect will be many times bigger than the sum of segregated prosperity.
Quality of life
What we really need to shift the current trend of polarisation towards opportunity for everyone, is to increase our focus on quality of life. The attraction of a city or region is principally determined by the quality of life it offers, for example in terms of clean air, safe and sustainable housing, a good, future-proof infrastructure and the best possible educational facilities. Interconnecting urban regions – such as those within the Randstad – is a sure way to create the advantages of agglomeration from which the entire country benefits.
The Netherlands needs a clear and solid proposal that enables us to compete with highly developed global regions. We too often excel in thinking small. In our current mindset, even the distance between Almere and the centre of Amsterdam seems huge. How fantastic would it be if Almere really were to be part of a shared ambition, and therefore the same city? To a commuter from New York, London or Paris, the distance between Amsterdam and Rotterdam compares to the distance between the suburbs and the city. If they can do it there, we can certainly achieve it in our country.
Jeroen Lokerse, CEO Cushman & Wakefield
This article is the second in a series of three in which Jeroen Lokerse analyses the role and function of real estate in a structurally changing world and the resulting opportunities for creating sustainable (business) value for society and for project developers. Read more about our vision on a new approach to urban development in ‘the Netherlands from an international perspective’: