The Dutch: Pioneers of Adaptability

The Netherlands have been the pioneers of many different inventions and infrastructure systems throughout history. Innovations, such as the use of mills to reclaim the land and the creation of large dikes and canals, have allowed the Netherlands to grow to be a great nation that shapes its future. With the rapid advance of climate change endangering the globe, great nations around the world have been trying to pursue a more sustainable environment and commerce within their cities. In the changing times, The Netherlands has used their skills to develop a more sustainable transportation infrastructure that leaps beyond the rest of the world. 

The Netherlands first demonstrated their ability to adapt through the reclaiming of the land in the early 11th century. Feddes explains, in “A Millennium of Amsterdam”, that the creation of large dikes, to reroute the rising seawater away from the cities, allowed for the development and growth of the Dutch people and their culture. Eventually this ability to adapt would lead to the first use of windmill pumps which were used to drain the polders in the country land when flooding was imminent. This stability would lead to the Dutch golden age where the empire would go on to explore and grow the wealth of the country. Quickly in the 1800s, The Dutch discovered that the wooden foundations of their founding buildings and dykes were rooting away. This further solidified the constant battle Feddes emphasizes the Dutch have had with nature that still continues to this day. In Dutch fashion, a solution was made and the massive renovations on dikes and cities foundations allowed for the Netherlands to win another battle from the sea. The Netherlands today fights a new battle that is also fought by all of the nations on Earth. 

Climate Change is a recent development in the long time battle that the Netherlands has had with nature, but for the rest of the world it is much harder to adapt to a situation that requires so much urgency.  The Netherlands has already made changes towards sustainable electric production through the use of windmill innovation. The Netherlands have repurposed polder mills to both pump out overflowing water as well as provide electricity. Although minor, it is changes like these that lead the change to a truly sustainable infrastructure in the future. These changes, according to Evergreen Steps, are due to a massive push from the citizens of the Netherlands to boycott non sustainable electric production. This push along with other large developments in sustainability have shown that the Dutch people are not just  willing but eager  to adapt to whatever is needed not only for themselves but for nature as well.

This connection the people have with the land is highlighted in Dutch literary works such as Nescio’s Little Giants. Nescio describes the feelings that he and his friends had about escaping from the land and venturing to the outer rings. He explains “We sat in the grass on the dike, among the buttercups, inquisitive cows came up to us with their big eyes” (Nescio 37). Nescio goes on to describe the specific sounds and sights that come in the Dutch night further showing the connection to the land through familiarity. Nescios’ detailed explanation of the Dutch environment goes beyond fine imagery and shows the cultural connection the people of Holland have with its environment. Also highlighted in  Little Titans is the frequency at which these friends were able to venture to the outskirts of the city due to the city’s vast biking systems. 

 The Netherlands is far ahead of the world in the realm of sustainable transportation. As shown in Little Titans, the young men depicted were able to venture to the rural areas due to the bike paths. This ability to travel freely with low cost throughout the landscape allows for the Dutch citizen to build a relationship with the land that their people have inhabited for years. The nature connection is partly due to the lack of cars within the Dutch way of life in the modern era. Pascal Van der Noort is a Dutch economist who has played a major part in biking infrastructure within the Netherlands. In Pascal’s presentation, he explained how the Dutch have moved away from cars and instead have prioritized the bicycle within Amsterdam city center. Bicycle routes dominate the routes going between urban areas with cars acting as a secondary mode of transportation for longer trips. Van der Noort emphasized that 25% of all Amsterdam citizens use cars while only 20% of those with cars use them weekly. This statistic alone shows the amount of waste cars played within Dutch society and how the change has moved The Netherlands one step towards full sustainability.

The work towards sustainable transportation does not stop with the bike routes around the city but has moved on to decreasing the amount of cars within the city and allowing for the full replacement of bikes. A major development in the biking infrastructure of Amsterdam is the addition of the largest biking parking garage in the world. The parking garage has over 12,000 spaces and allows for a larger number of bikes within the city limits (Cycling Weekly). This change comes from a developing overcrowding problem that was consuming the city streets. The parking garage was an adaptation to a previous infrastructure plan that the Dutch created. This trend of building and adapting is something that the Dutch have done for years and will do for years to come. 

The Dutch through the years have created a trend to build and adapt. From the nation’s beginnings, where water was pumped from the land and rerouted to reclaim the land, the Dutch have built infrastructure to live in a sustainable way. The ability to adapt has been shown through the countless innovations built into the existing infrastructure such as integrating clean energy into the polder mills. These traits and long history have helped the Dutch create one of the largest and best sustainable transportation systems that provides an example to the rest of the world for clean transportation. In Dutch fashion, the people have not stopped and are continuing to be a role model for the world in the years to come. 

Work cited

Feddes, Fred. A Millennium Of Amsterdam. Thoth, 2012.

Nescio. Storie Di Amsterdam. Iperborea, 2015. GWU,

Ballinger, Alex. “Netherlands Opens World’s Biggest Parking Garage for Cyclists.” Cyclingweekly.Com, 19 Aug. 2019,

“Velo Mondial.” YouTube, 2020,

“Switching to Green Energy in Amsterdam.” Ever Green Steps, 2020,

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