Waag, seen from the Kloveniersburgwal in 1982
Valuing Heritage for Water Management


  • Arjan Conijn University of Groningen image/svg+xml
  • Maarten Reinier Lemme Ouboter Regional Public Water Authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht
  • Jeroen Oomkens Regional Public Water Authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht





Adding Place to Balance People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership (toward 6Ps of SDGs): The Dutch landscape contains unique elements resulting from both natural processes and human interventions. To truly understand the Dutch water system, we need to consider how human interventions have impacted it throughout history. This is especially important when it comes to addressing current water challenges as part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, the SDGs are not just isolated goals. They should be perceived as interdependent spheres of action, with “place” being a particularly important new pillar to consider. The concept of “place” forces an integrated approach between the five pillars of SDGs (5Ps of SDGs) – people, planet, prosperity, peace and the unique historic characteristics of specific spaces. By acknowledging and understanding the unique historic characteristics of different places and fostering mutual understanding through the sharing of narratives and building partnerships, we can effectively work together to find solutions that address future challenges.

How to Cite

Conijn, A., Ouboter, M. R. L., & Oomkens, J. (2022). Valuing Heritage for Water Management. Blue Papers, 1(1), 59–67. https://doi.org/10.58981/bluepapers.2022.1.06





challenges, concepts and new approaches

Author Biographies

Arjan Conijn, University of Groningen

Studies the interaction between people and water from a landscape perspective. After finishing his dissertation on changing mentalities on flooding in the Upper Rhine valley at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, he aimed to understand the practice of flood management at the engineering consultancy Witteveen+Bos. He combines his work in the field of flood management with elaborative research in the Living Dikes project at University of Groningen.

Maarten Reinier Lemme Ouboter, Regional Public Water Authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht

Background in earth sciences, specializing in hydrogeology and geochemistry. He started his professional career at Delft Hydraulics, where he developed a strong foundation for integrated system analysis. Since 2001, Maarten has evolved into the public voice – ambassador – of water at the Regional Public Water Authority of Amstel, Gooi and Vecht. His comprehensive knowledge of greater Amsterdam is essential in regional water, environmental and cultural developments. Securing this voice and its intrinsic values in investment plans makes Maarten instrumental for future challenges of the region. He advocates for more integrated approaches that include historical perspectives of systems, in particular, the landscape, natural processes, culture, governance and its people. The outcome of all equations is ecology: can plants and animals sustainably co-exist in a water system with people and their ambitions?

Jeroen Oomkens, Regional Public Water Authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht

Senior legal policy advisor responsible for future-proofing regional legislation in the Netherlands. For ten years, he has coordinated and led the development of tailored water, climate and environmental solutions to support the transition of (inter) national organizations and institutions. For the NL MFA, he participated in a study on the political economy of water infrastructure investments in South Africa, Kenya, Indonesia and the Philippines. And for Cabo Verde he co-authored the National Adaptation Plan. Jeroen also contributed to policy developments for the European Green Deal, where among other projects, he led the impact assessment for the new EU Adaptation Strategy, inspiring a clear call for action. He is chairman of the Dutch committee of ISO standards on climate change adaptation and the Dutch Head of Delegation for the CEN/TC on Climate change. Jeroen also volunteers within the SDSN Youth Network as a coach and expert. He holds a master’s degree in earth sciences – Environmental Management from the University of Amsterdam and a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht.


Brown, Kaysie, and Krista Rasmussen. 2019. “The Sustainable Development Goals In 2019: People, Planet, Prosperity in Focus.” Climate, Energy and Environment (blog). United Nations Foundation. July 9, 2019. https://unfoundation.org/blog/post/thesustainable- development-goals-in- 2019-people-planet-prosperity-in-focus/.

Van der Geest, Harm G., Arie J. Vonk, and Maarten Ouboter. 2018. Reconstruction water and material balance Markermeer; report University of Amsterdam and Waternet 1976–2015. University of Amsterdam and Waternet report. (In Dutch)

Ven, Gerard. 2004. Man-Made Lowlands: History of Water Management and Land Reclamation in the Netherlands. Utrecht: Uitgeverij Matrijs.

Van Tielhof, Milja. 2021. Consensus and Conflict. Water Management in the Netherlands 1200–1800. Hilversum: Uitgeverij Verloren.