News / 25 April 2014

The Netherlands should assume its role as innovator

A while ago our director Daniëlle Hirsch, along with Dutch Minister of Internal Affairs Lodewijk Asscher, chair of the board of The Broker Monika Sie Dhian Ho and director of The Broker Frans Bieckmann, formed the panel on ‘The Broker Day 2014’. Like the other panel members, she gave a speech in which she outlined her views on employment, inequality, the underlying macroeconomic problems and possible solutions. As we consider this speech worth reading, we’re happy to share it on our website.

Argentinian pampas

"20 years ago, the Argentine pampas were marshy fields filled with grazing cows, birds of prey, fresh vegetables, and frequent stops to wipe insects off the car windows. When I visit the pampas today, there is not a cow to be seen. The bugs are gone and the pampas are full of soy." With this image, Danielle illustrates context of her argument. She talks about an economy that grows in quantity but decreases in quality. "The wellbeing of the population declines and health is deteriorating. In the medium term the damage, such as increasing soil degradation, polluted water and disappearing forests, will be irreversible.”


Underdog or innovator?

Danielle argues that the Netherlands is not as small as we might think and that it can certainly make an important contribution to solving the world’s agricultural, environmental and climate problems, like those in Argentina. In order to do so, the Netherlands needs to focus more on its numerous strength and skills; it is the home of highly renowned knowledge institute ‘Wageningen University’ and of large multinationals such as FrieslandCampina and Unilever, and it has much to offer in the field of infrastructure development. After China, the Netherlands is the largest importer of soy from South America and it is the largest food exporter after the United States. "Because we are and will remain dependent on the rest of the world, we have to develop a longer-term vision on how we will contribute to the well-being of people everywhere, while respecting the limits of our planet."


Points of action

Danielle calls for more reciprocity in trade agreements to allow countries to take foreign investors to task over job growth, the environment and payment of taxes. "So we should stop investing in capital-intensive agriculture and make sure our comprehensive knowledge of agriculture is reflected in our trade and investment policies.”  Moreover, she advocates the restoration of global ecosystems, which are now contaminated or destroyed for 90% by those same intensive monocultures. "We have to invest in organisations which fight for better governance and which stand up for people and the environment."


Green light for the future

According to Danielle, the Netherlands possesses the knowledge, the technology and the influence to actually make a difference. "For an open economy like the Netherlands, it is in our own short- and especially long-term interest to allow others to share in the benefits of development. With our influence, we are in a position to reverse depressing scenes like I encountered in Argentina – scenes that are visible all over the world. The lights are green for real sustainable employment and equality in trade relations, as far as I'm concerned. We only need to cross the street. "


Full speech of Daniëlle Hirsch

Broker Day (summary)

More information about trade agreements

Danielle’s weblog





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