According to Frank van Oort, Professor of Urban and Regional Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, the quality of our living environment is under pressure. Due to climate change and extreme weather, but also the regionalization of production, it is becoming increasingly clear that the logistics system in the Netherlands must become smarter and more resilient. In an article published by Financieele Dagblad, van Oort writes, together with co-authors Merten Nefs, Paul Gerretsen, Tom Daamen and Wil Zonneveld, how this can be realised.
According to the authors, the Netherlands must continue to benefit from its unique position in the Eurodelta, but the logistics area that stretches across the Netherlands is changing rapidly. ‘Hinterland connections are already at risk when the water level in the Rhine or Maas is too low for inland shipping. Logistics also came to a standstill during the recent flooding. Sea level rise and a possible sea lock at Europoort will disrupt the system even more in the future.'
The worn-out story
According to the authors, we must move beyond the worn-out story of the Netherlands as a distribution country. ‘First of all, when investment choices should be made, the added value of logistics must be placed above the volume of freight. The priority must be to create high-quality jobs.' The authors also believe that transit and re-export activities that are bad for the environment and bring little economic benefit should be discouraged. The real added value of logistics is often limited, while the negative environmental effects are often large.
The new story
'The new story is therefore inevitably about sustainable and resilient logistics, with a different distribution of costs in the short term and preservation of valuable competitiveness in the long term’, the authors write. 'This cannot be done without steering for spatial integration. New logistics projects, from infrastructure to distribution centers, must become part of regional planning and area developments, including climate adaptation.'