Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

Dutch Diplo Talk

A work week of the Consul General

16 Sep 2015

What does a Consul General do? Someone asks me this question every week. Everyone correctly guesses that I’m a diplomat who works for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thanks to my title, most people assume correctly that consular diplomacy is part of my work: issuing passports and visas, visiting Dutch prisoners, commemorating (World War II victims), and celebrating (King’s Day).

Fewer people know I spend most of my time on economic diplomacy, the main reason why the Consulate General (CG) moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco almost six years ago.

What is economic diplomacy? Instead of merely reciting the mission, vision and strategy of the CG’s three economic clusters (direct investment, innovation and business), let me give you an impression of my external contacts in a work week. Sorry, this will make my blog longer than usual.
Hugo as he hosts a network event at the Consulate General.

Important bilateral meetings

  • Telephone conference with Lennart Schröer, CEO of Undagrid, the best Internet of Everything startup in Europe last year, on the investment of KLM and Schiphol Airport to save energy with a track-and-trace system for unmotorized carts and staircases, and their possible interest to come across the Atlantic Ocean.
  •  Joerg Geier, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, about a central contact for cleantech startups in the Netherlands, e.g. YES!Delft.
  •  Manuel Gonzales-Guzman, Sander Pruijs, and Jip Weints, all of whom work for Rabobank San Francisco and focus on wholesale, retail and trade in the agri-food industry, about working with us on bigger projects and programs, with California’s drought as a priority.
  • Debbie Acosta, who is the Chief Innovation Officer for the East Bay city of San Leandro and happens to be half-Dutch, as usual inspires me with new ideas about integral development of the waterfront and (fiber) interconnectivity.
  • Adel Hagakhalil and colleagues of Los Angeles Sanitation use a water conference in San Francisco to talk about following up on agreement with the city of Rotterdam to help restore the LA River.
  • Peter Laanen, who recently ran the Netherlands Business Support Office in our CG and now runs his own consulting firm, Laanen the Brand, in the SF Bay Area and next year in the Netherlands, helps me select companies from our rich Dutch tech startup network to ask to mentor newly arrived startups.

Receptions over the weekend

  • Dutch drinks (or as we say, borrel), organized at three spots in the SF Bay Area. I drove down to Palo Alto to speak with well-known Stanford academics and Silicon Valley business leaders.
  • Another drive to Palo Alto for a house-warming for Søren Juul Jørgensen, director of Denmark Innovation Center, which is equally large as our CG, something to think about for the Dutch, since both the Danish population and economy are much smaller than the Dutch.
  • Up north across the Golden Gate Bridge, I meet several interesting people who are working on the Ocean Cleanup, SF Bay Area infrastructure projects, the Meeting of the Minds conference in Richmond, and the Bioneers conference in San Rafael.

This weekly calendar will hopefully put some flesh on the bones of our mission statement: We are the front-office in West America that stimulates innovative entrepreneurship and promotes the gateway to Europe in order to enhance prosperity and sustainability in the Netherlands.

This blog was posted earlier in Hugo’s Weekly.

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About the author

Hugo Von Meijenfeldt
Written by Hugo Von Meijenfeldt

Consul-General in San Francisco

Hugo von Meijenfeldt was appointed as representative for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the 13 westernmost United States in August 2013.

Prior to his current position, Hugo was Deputy Director General at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. He also served as Special Envoy for Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2009 until 2013. In this capacity, he led Dutch participation in global diplomatic activities to reach a climate agreement.

Previously, Hugo was Director for Soil, Water and Rural Environment. For several years he held the position of Deputy Director for International Affairs, Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Policy of UN-ECE Geneva, and Head of the European Policy Division (including the EU Presidency in 1997). From 1982 until 1991, he was Legal Counsel to the soil clean-up division.

Hugo earned his Masters in Public Law and Policy at the Free University in Amsterdam in 1981. He is member of the WorldConnectors and the Sustainability Challenge Foundation.