Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

Dutch Diplo Talk

Connecting the rivers of Los Angeles and Rotterdam

4 Mar 2015

Mayors Signing

Mayor Garcetti of LA and Mayor Aboutaleb of Rotterdam sign the River Agreement

On the borders of “El Rio de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Los Ángeles de Porciúncula”, Spanish settlers founded the city of Los Angeles in California in 1781. In 1260 the City of Rotterdam was founded around a 400 meter dam in the “Rotte” river in the south of Holland, that prevented the big “Maas” or “Meuse” river from flooding. Both cities became the busiest ports in America and Europe, the second-largest cities in their countries and members of the C40 Climate Leadership Group and 100 Resilient Cities campaign.

Last week, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of Rotterdam signed a river partnership agreement. Both cities desire to collaborate in sharing and developing ideas for revitalizing their rivers to accommodate sustainable development and generate multi-benefit outcomes. Amongst the instruments are flood protection by working with water and nature, urban quality through architecture and landscaping, and civic engagement through education are amongst the instruments.

Both cities wish to collaborate as they revitalize their rivers. The two Mayors strive for sustainable developments with multi-benefit outcomes. Among the instruments to realize these goals are flood protection through working with water and nature, urban quality through architecture, and landscaping and civic engagement through education.

Connecting rivers and businesses
The ink on the signed agreement was still wet when mayor Aboutaleb together with the key Los Angeles representatives in the revitalization project mingled the blue water of the Rotte/Meuse River with that of the Los Angeles River. Aboutaleb invited his LA friends to come to Rotterdam, and see with their own eyes what choices have been made, and share ideas how the available $ 1.4 billion for the LA River project could best be invested. The delegation of eleven water companies that attended the ceremony, is ready to play its role and already made matches with the LA governments and company counterparts.

The name of the river Rotte is linked to the Dutch word for muddy or drabby waters. It is no coincidence that the Dutch verb “oprotten” means “get lost”. In my previous Weekly I noted that the mayor of Rotterdam used this verb against people who don’t like the Dutch freedom of expression. His statement on this subject gained him an invitation by President Barack Obama to join in the White House Summit on Radicalization. His message was to offer a different perspective, while setting limits at the same time.

The same goes for the Los Angeles River. Offer a perspective for revitalization the river’s bed and banks while setting limits to safeguard water security at the same time.

This blog was posted earlier in Hugo’s Weekly

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  • 4 Mar 2015, 8:00
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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.