"Where other (European) cities or regions invest in their metropolitan development to secure their place in the future global league of strong economic and cultural cities, the Dutch cities seem not to be able to think outside their territorial boarders and they are therefore losing their current, just above average, position in the European League." A report of the Metropoolforum 2014


During the Metropoolforum 2014, an annual public forum on metropolitan development in The Netherlands organised by Deltametropolis Association, one of the sessions placed the Dutch metropolitan development in an international perspective.  


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During the session the flowing speaker presented: Juliane Kürschner and Julian Jansen (Metropolitan Governance in Europe, lessons from the European practice), David van Keulen (Thinking about EU Nethercity), Danny Edwards (Looking towards the east, Metropolia Silesia), Jeroen Saris, Jaap Modder and Wouter Veldhuis (A South Perspective for the Netherlands) and Tim van der Avoird (a set a principles: steering within a poly centric urban network).

The session concluded that, concerning metropolitan development in The Netherlands, the main question is not so much what to do, but with whom? Therefore, the session has focused on which parties play a role.

The debate clearly concluded: the time is now to step forward. On one hand, everybody knows now why national collaborations, international orientation and position of The Netherlands are important and on the other hand REOS (Spatial and Economic Development Strategy) and the Low Countries project actually form the opportunities to move a step forward. In both projects must be clearly positioned how regional projects not only bring forward one region but several regions internationally. For this to take place, the current regional cooperation agendas have to become more precise on who does what. A pitfall to be avoided are the old technocratic solutions. Therefore, it should be communicated clearly why and how someone's quality of life is improved. Linking the map of local projects directly to a national strategy is an interesting option to do so.

Furthermore, the session made clear that the private sector, as well as the metropolitan residents themselves, have an important role. How do you involve them in the (spatial) developments, without resulting in technocratic debates? Furthermore, the question arises: Is a bottom-up movement able to think beyond their own (local) scale? Can such a movement put matters on the metropolitan agenda?

Luckily international projects show that this is possible. For example, what stood out in the international example of Bordeaux (Roundtable Brussels - Metro in Progress) is that the inhabitants were involved in the plans: they are asked for their opinion, and finally 5 Sens (sensitivity / directions) were released which could be linked to the metropolis projects. In Turin, the people, through cultural projects, were also involved in the metropolitan development dynamics. These examples show that developments may be accomplished in a less technocratic manner.