A new episode of the Water Talks podcast has been aired. This time, the conversation is about the combination of spatial planning, water, Argentina and the Netherlands. Arjan Braamskamp, Regional Manager for the Americas at the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP), zooms in on these topics with Nahuel Beccan Davila of Beccan Davila Urbanismo. They discuss Beccan’s project in Zárate, Argentina, and the added value of an integrated approach to water-related challenges.
The right knowledge on the right spot
Beccan Davila Urbanismo, located in the Netherlands, works with water security and water safety in urban deltas. Beccan Davila and his team solve water-related challenges by applying their integrated perspective on place, space and water. Considering the growing world population and a changing climate, the demand for such future-proof solutions will grow in urban deltas. Consequently, support for Dutch nature-based solutions is increasing, especially since these solutions could become even cheaper in the long term. An essential issue is changing the old mindset focused on known approaches towards a more opportunistic and alternative mindset.
The question remains as to how to transfer this Dutch approach. The Partners for Water Programme is designed to connect Dutch solutions to international water-related challenges. Regarding Latin America, where the Programme focuses on Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina, Beccan Davila states: “I think it is important to understand Latin America’s culture and that you do not arrive with the mentality ‘this is how it is going to be’, but that you are willing to transfer your knowledge”. The support of the Partners for Water in Argentina is of great help in this regard.
The Zárate project
The municipality of Zárate is located in the Paraná delta, 50 kilometres form Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires. Zárate has 120,000 inhabitants and the entire municipality stretches out over 1,200 km2. The delta has to deal with frequent flooding, which is highly unsafe for Zárate’s urban and rural areas in the absence of a spatial planning masterplan. Therefore, the objective that Beccan Davila Urbanismo set for the Zárate delta project was to create a masterplan for the local municipality.
Beccan Davila remembers that when the municipality of Zárate contacted the Dutch partners, these immediately thought of building dikes and other grey infrastructure. He, however, instantly said: “No! One should not do so. A delta is meant to flood.” The local authorities were surprised at first, but this building with nature approach has led to a successful project in the end.
Opportunities from cooperation
When discussing this successful cooperation, Braamskamp and Beccan Davila point out that although Argentina currently goes through an economic recession, it always manages to bounce back thanks to a strong market profile and a well-educated workforce. Argentina is ambitious, its market profile highly educated, and its hunger for knowledge and development continuous. On this point Beccan Davila notes, “From my point of view, Argentina has pursued much new knowledge, including in the field of water, in recent years. The Netherlands is an excellent complement to this pursuit.”
Curious about the development of the Zárate project and role of the cooperation through the Partners for Water Programme? Here you can listen to the WaterTalks podcast (in Dutch).