History and the future of shipping channels

International symposium: 150 years New Waterway
Harbour Rotterdam
Thursday 13 Oct 2022, 09:00 - Saturday 15 Oct 2022, 18:00

ss Rotterdam

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SS Rotterdam en Euromast (2018)
Iris van den Broek

How can we shape future growth and development in the light of climate adaptation, energy transition and urbanization? And how can this development contribute to improving the quality of life and natural value in coastal regions? Come to the international symposium 150 jaar Nieuwe Waterweg (150 years New Waterway) and participate in the future!

The symposium is part of a series of events in Rotterdam, celebrating the 150th birthday of the New Waterway, the intervention engineer Pieter Caland realized 150 years ago. His quest to transform delta into a shipping channel led to digging a waterway through the dunes of Hoek van Holland. As a result, Rotterdam has grown into a modern delta metropolis that is connected to Europe and the rest of the world. That was 150 years ago. Now we face new challenges. Challenges we like to tackle during the three-day symposium on the history and future of the New Waterway (Nieuwe Waterweg) the LDE PortCityFutures Centre organizes in the Netherlands.


Port cities worldwide have been able to develop in coastal landscapes such as deltas, estuaries, and lagoons. This development was accompanied by radical transformations of these coastal landscapes through land reclamation, diking and canalization. The construction and systematic deepening of shipping channels in particular play a key role in this, with the New Waterway (Nieuwe Waterweg) as an illustrative example. These coastal landscapes are the scene of increasing tension between economic growth and associated infrastructural interventions on the one hand, and the quality, sustainability and resilience of natural systems, spatial settlement patterns and urban societies on the other. The question for the near future is how new relationships between economic development and the natural system can be established. A new role for (and treatment of) the shipping channels intersecting coastal regions will be crucial for strategies aiming to establish new relationships. That is why these strategies will only be possible when they are based on broad public debate and support.


The symposium will take place on board the ss Rotterdam. A former ocean liner that passed the New Waterway many times on the way to America, before it got a permanent base in Rotterdam as a hotel and conference centre. In this historic environment speakers from (international) universities and other experts discuss man-made interventions in river mouths in favor of shipping traffic and port development and with large impacts on environmental and spatial aspects. You are involved in interesting topics such as the challenges and implications for water management, spatial planning and design, and how public support can be obtained.

Key-note speakers

Speakers include prof. Carola Hein, Sabine Luning, Paul van de Laar, Han Meyer, Stephen Ramos, Paul Hudson and Patrick Meire, among many others. More speakers will soon be announced, along with the definitive programme, which also includes a tour of the port and the city of Rotterdam.

Side program October 11-12

Multiple free pre-events will take place to set up the stage for the symposium, like:

  • a hybrid seminar on the future of river basins and delta regions organized by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the Chinese Council of International Collaboration on Environment and Development, and the Nature Conservancy (U.S.A)
  • presentations and discussions around two calls for papers on “Global Shipping Channels”, and “Dredging as Urban Planning”


By attending these events:

  • participants will gain important insights on the value and future of river basins and delta regions from different countries
  • discuss current issues and solutions around shipping channels with experts on the topic and
  • get up-to-date information on policies, events, and publications


The symposium is aimed at professionals, scholars and stakeholders having an interest around the questions of water and spatial planning.
See you in Rotterdam.

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