17 May 2012

Dutch water expertise does not apply

I've had some interesting discussions about Dutch water management, in which one theme persists:
Why don't others listen to the Dutch about water management?
I've got three reasons:
  1. The Dutch have been learning how to manage water -- and cooperate (via the Polder model) for 500+ years. You can't export those institutions.
  2. The Dutch have to manage TOO MUCH water. Most parts of the world suffer from scarcity (an end of abundance), not surplus.
  3. Dutch solutions are built to last for 50-100 years (or longer), which makes them expensive to people used to short run thinking (the US, developing countries) instead of investing in durable quality.
These characteristics are virtues in Holland but handicaps abroad. I am not sure if the Dutch should market "Holland-lite," but they certainly need to take these factors into account.