TEDx comes to The Netherlands with Global Challenges Theme

The Hague, The Netherlands – TEDx events are independently organized events designed to bring the TED experience to their participants. On March 31st this year, TEDxBinnenhof will see hundreds of guests gather in the ‘Ridderzaal’ next to the Dutch Houses of Parliament, a site regularly used for official royal and parliamentary business, and thousands more through live streams provided at over 40 Dutch embassies and consulates the world over.

The theme of this year’s TEDxBinnenhof is “Global Challenges | Dutch Solutions”, showing that while the Netherlands may be a small country, their ideas, ambition, and ability are anything but. Live speakers will present their “10 ideas worth spreading” that relate to this theme. The speakers were selected by a jury which includes André Kuipers, Dutch ESA astronaut, and Bertholt Leeftink, the Director-General of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, based on the innovativeness of their solutions to global challenges like ageing populations, sustainable agriculture, energy supply systems, scarce raw-materials and cyber-security.

Most of the chosen ideas deal with the themes of sustainability, energy, nature and the environment, or green transport in some way. A summary of the speakers and their original projects is given below.

Barry Scholten – Smart Polder

Polders are tracts of low-lying land enclosed by dikes, with only manually-operated connections to outside water sources. This project resulted in the design of a ‘smart polder’, which can pump water, generate energy, and prevent problems caused by cyanobacteria.

Mike Eman – Your Aruba

In 2010, the prime minister of Aruba, Mike Eman, declared that Aruba would strive to become a fully sustainable, self-sufficient society by 2020. The Carbon War Room (founded by Richard Branson), TNO (a Dutch independent research organization), Harvard University, and the Technical University of Delft have all come on board to help Aruba meet this goal.

Jeoffrey van den Berg – Turning the chemical industry upside down

Jeoffrey is working together with the Technical University of Eindhoven to try to replace big manufacturing plants with many small factories located near to where materials are available and where their products are needed.

Onno van Schayck – Chimneys as preventive medicine

The project “A chimney for every child” strives to provide locally-made or make-shift chimneys for millions of houses in the slums of India, to reduce the prevalence of lung disease in the children there.

Rudi Dieleman – Pectcof

This project seeks to make the coffee supply chain more sustainable and turn it in to a cradle-to-cradle process by using coffee pulp as a source of biobased material and detoxifying the waste stream.

 Heleen Herbert – Hydrea Thermpipe

This project investigates the possibility of harvesting heat from the sewer system, a currently untapped resource, allowing the previously-wasted heat to be reused cleanly and safely for heating or cooling purposes.

Marjolein Helder – Plant-E

Plant-E looks at generating electricity from living plants. The products and processes involved are completely natural and do not inhibit the natural growth of the plant during electricity generation.


Kathryn Hannis

Kathryn spent the first half of her life in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States. Then, just as she was about to begin her freshman year in high school, her family uprooted and transplanted to The Hague, the Netherlands, Europe. Kathryn studied Environmental Engineering at NAU, in Flagstaff, Arizona, and then later moved back to the Netherlands to get a Master’s degree in Sustainable Energy Technology.

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