Northern Netherlands in Transition – Conference


As the traditional energy producers of the Netherlands, the Northern three provinces have developed a very vibrant economy around the production of natural gas. Due to climate change and the fact that the region suffers from earthquakes as a result of natural gas extraction, the national government has decided to largely stop extracting natural gas in the Northern provinces by 2022. This constitutes a huge challenge to the economy of the Northern Netherlands, as a considerable number of companies will have to switch to new business models and many employees will have to be retrained or look for another job. To tackle these challenges, the four largest Northern cities have started a trajectory with the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The goal of this project is to develop an Action Roadmap that contains concrete actions that need to be taken to keep the Northern economy and its labour market vivid.

Working conference, December 2019

To develop this Roadmap, we needed the input and expertise from as much stakeholders and experts as possible. That is why we organized a working conference on the 3rd and 4th of December 2019 in Leeuwarden.

On the 3rd of December, Deputy Mayor Friso Douwstra kicked off the conference with a word of welcome and once again emphasized the urgency of preparing the North’s huamn capital for the energy transition. After this introduction, JRC Director Piotr Szymanski took the stage to express the JRC’s willingness and capability to help in addressing urban challenges. Mr. Szymanski also introduced two researchers of the JRC, who presented the implications that stopping the gas extraction will have on the Northern economy and provided the audience with advise on how to tackle economic transitions. The JRC’s contribution was followed by presentations from international experts from different European regions that have experienced similar economic transitions. Speakers from Heerlen (Netherlands), Oulu (Finland) and Lille (France) shared the lessons they learned from their respective region’s economic transitions with the audience. To close off the first day, a panel discussion with stakeholders from different sectors took place, during which the audience was able to actively engage in the discussion.

On the 4th of December, the Northern stakeholders used the acquired inspiration to work together in groups on the development of the Action Roadmap. These working sessions were incredibly fruitful, and by the end of the day, a considerable number of concrete actions that need to be taken were agreed upon. These actions revolved around the questions of how to prepare the labour market, the industries and the energy system for the upcoming transition.

Currently, a report on the outcomes of the working conference is under development. For updates on this report, please check in to this page regularly.

Conference Report and Presentations

For the Dutch report of the conference, please click on the link below:
Conference report (Dutch)

For the English report on the conference, please click on the link below:
Conference Report (English)

For the presentations of December 3rd, please click on the link below:
Slides December 3rd


Please find the pictures of both days of the conference below.

Day 1 – 3 December 2019

Day 2 – 4 December 2019

Contact information

For more information, you can contact Ewout Oppers at the municipality of Leeuwarden:
+316 433 65 175

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