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A Day in the City of Glass: Diplomats Meet in Westland

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Diplomat Magazine
Diplomat Magazinehttp://www.diplomatmagazine.eu
DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands. Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. "Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions." Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher

On the 1st of December 2023, a select group of diplomats convened in the heart of Dutch horticulture, Westland, for an introductory meeting organized by Mayor Bouke Arends and Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher of Diplomat Magazine. The gathering took place at the World Horti Center in Naaldwijk, the international hub of horticulture, showcasing Westland’s prowess as the largest concentrated greenhouse horticultural area globally.

Among the distinguished guests were the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, H.E. Ms. Sahar Ghanem Ambassador of Yemen, H.E. Mr. Askar Zhumagaliyev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan, H.E. Mr. Arnoldo Brenes Castro, Ambassador of Costa Rica, Ms. Chonvipat Changtrakul, Charge d’affaires of Thailand, and Mr. Shahrokh Nazemi of Iran.

01122023 – naaldwijk; de ontvangst van diverse ambassadeurs in Westland. Op uitnodiging van de Gemeente Westland hebben ambassadeurs uit Azië, Centraal Azië en de Golf regio een bezoek gebracht aan het World Horti Center en aan Koppert Cress om kennis te maken met het internationale tuinbouwcluster van Westland. Gemeente Westland © Thierry Schut Iov W Toelen

The day’s program was meticulously crafted to provide a comprehensive insight into Westland’s innovation, productivity, and global partnerships in horticulture. The schedule included a series of presentations by the director of the World Horti Center, Mrs. Puck van Holsteijn, and the director of Dutch Greenhouse Delta, Ms. Mirjam Boekesteijn. Following the presentations were interesting pitches of FoodVentures, Certhon and KUBO, a tour of the World Horti Center, and a guided visit by its CEO to Koppert Cress, Mr. Rob Baan a leading player in the industry.

The Mayor of Westland, Mr. Bouke Arends, set the tone for the day with a warm welcome, expressing his honor at hosting the esteemed guests. He highlighted Westland’s commitment to spreading the message of local, sustainable food production globally. The region, often referred to as the ‘City of Glass,’ boasts a concentration of key players in the entire greenhouse horticulture chain within a compact area of less than 100 square kilometers.

Mayor Arends emphasized the uniqueness of this cluster, bringing together activities from seeds to growing, packaging, transport, and trade, supported by government initiatives and collaboration with knowledge, technology, and research institutes. The economic impact is substantial, with the greenhouse industry alone generating over 6 billion Euros annually, contributing to continuous innovations.

“The greenhouse industry in our municipality generates more than 6 billion Euros annually. The added value of the entire cluster is twice that amount.

On a daily basis the companies in our region work on the newest innovations to improve horticulture, such as different types of (semi)-closed greenhouses, sustainable water use and almost autonomous greenhouses.” he explained.

In addressing the challenges of a growing global population and urbanization trends, Mayor Arends emphasized the role of high-tech horticulture in achieving local food production. He invited collaboration between Westland’s businesses and governments worldwide to address these challenges collectively. Mayor Arends declared the following “By 2050, it is expected that the world population will reach approximately 9 billion people, mainly living in new cities or so-called megacities. This means we are facing towards 600 cities with more than 10 million inhabitants. Feeding the population of these megacities will become increasingly important.”

After Mayor Arends’ speech, Ambassador Sahar Ghanem, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to witness the “unknown miracle of the Netherlands.” She commended the Dutch expertise in agriculture, acknowledging the Netherlands as the second-largest global exporter of agricultural products. “This says a lot about the level of innovation, creativity, experience and knowledge this sector could reach in the Netherlands.” She said.

Ambassador Ghanem saw this expertise as vital in addressing contemporary global challenges, including climate change, conflicts, and limited resources. She emphasized the potential for stronger cooperation between countries to harness the benefits of Dutch advancements in science and innovation for the greater good of humanity. “I see great potential and opportunity that can be used for the benefit of all humanity through stronger cooperation between countries in this field of science and innovation.”

01122023 – naaldwijk; de ontvangst van diverse ambassadeurs in Westland. Op uitnodiging van de Gemeente Westland hebben ambassadeurs uit Azië, Centraal Azië en de Golf regio een bezoek gebracht aan het World Horti Center en aan Koppert Cress om kennis te maken met het internationale tuinbouwcluster van Westland. Gemeente Westland © Thierry Schut Iov W Toelen

The day’s program concluded with a sense of optimism and the promise of future engagements. Mayor Arends expressed his belief in the power of collaboration and learning from each other. “As diplomats you understand as no other the importance of speaking and acting in such a way as to keep all doors open. I believe working together and engage in economic relations can be such a vehicle.” The visit to Westland was a platform for building connections, sharing knowledge, and fostering partnerships that transcend borders for a sustainable and innovative future in horticulture.

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