Wim Kuijken: ‘Launch of 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering also of benefit to the Delta Programme’

‘It is a good thing that four Dutch universities of technology are now joining forces to collectively tackle Resilience Engineering issues,’ the Delta Programme Commissioner stated in Rotterdam during the launch of the new 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering. ‘The Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation also focuses a great deal of attention on the vulnerability of our infrastructure.’

Image: ©Klaas-Jelmer Sixma @sprekendefotos.nl

“Resilience” refers to the coping capacity of individuals and cities. The four universities concerned – Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, Wageningen University & Research Centre, and University of Twente – are joining forces for the specific purpose of substantiating the concept of “urban resilience”. How can we increase the resilience of cities? How can we anticipate the impact of severe storms: prolonged power failure, rising water levels on the streets, no possibilities for supermarkets to order supplies, no more cash to be withdrawn from cashpoints? Complex issues that – just like the Delta Programme – must not be addressed separately but rather call for an interconnected approach.

Vital and vulnerable

‘Failure of vital infrastructure may cause great societal disruption’, said Wim Kuijken in his keynote address at the meeting. ‘Vital infrastructure constitutes an important tasking within the Delta Programme on Spatial Adaptation. We need to design the Dutch delta in a manner that enables it to cope with Nature’s extremes. This is a difficult task. It means dealing with many different parties, with diverging interests, and fragmented responsibilities.’

Need for knowledge

The Delta Programme Commissioner stressed that it is a good thing for the four universities to start collaborating now. ‘We have the brainpower, I am convinced of that. The only thing is that in some cases, principals and contractors need to be more aware of one another’s exact requirements in terms of expertise.’

New level

Within the context of the new collaboration initiative, the 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering will provide state-of-the-art scientific insights and expertise from recent studies. Conversely, cities may submit issues from actual practice. ‘This will take the design and implementation of technical infrastructure to a new level,’ according to Marjolein Dohmen-Janssen, managing director of the 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering.

Declaration of Intent

Later that day, representatives of the four universities of technology signed a declaration of intent, co-signed by, inter alia, the municipalities of Rotterdam and The Hague. This marks the start of the first collaboration in the field of Resilience Engineering knowledge development and implementation.