The Green Metropolitan Region prepares Arnhem and Nijmegen for the future

Since early 2021, the Green Metropolitan Region has been working hard to bring about more circular housing and make the region of Arnhem-Nijmegen more sustainable. And there is a lot to be done to prepare for the future. Novio Tech Campus has a seat at the table when new developments arise, as the campus gives way to innovations in health and high tech to help shape a greener, circular region.

Harriët Tiemens is the director of the Green Metropolitan Region. With her experience as an alderwoman in Nijmegen and Rheden, area development has always piqued her interest. Therefore, she has loads of experience in mobility, housing, the environment and the energy transition.

During the last few years, she noticed how necessary it was for the region to cooperate. “Since 2015, cooperation within the Arnhem-Nijmegen region has been on the back burner. But themes like housing especially, require a lot cooperation between Arnhem and Nijmegen to secure a spot on the national political agenda.”

The national government is an important partner when you want to turn plans into actions, says Harriët. “The parliament debated the topic of housing last week, and our region was one of the talking points. That hasn’t happened for quite some years – we were out of sight and out of mind. There have always been more plans than money to make them happen. That’s why it’s incredibly important to be visible.” Harriët adds that the Green Metropolitan Region has already had some success with this strategy: “As part of the Housing Deal, we have sped up the construction of 5.000 houses. We will do so with tens of millions of euros in additional subsidies from the national government. That wouldn’t have been possible without being visible.”

Building a circular region
The Green Metropolitan region uses five themes to develop its green and circular characteristics. One of those themes is ‘a connected region’, which focuses on mobility. “It’s relevant for Novio Tech Campus that we are making sure the campus remains accessible. The Goffert train station will become an important mobility ‘hub’ for the Winkelsteeg area,” says Harriët. All of this has to be done based on circular principles. “In 2018, we were the best circular region in the Netherlands. We want to build on that reputation.”

Creative solutions
One of the newest developments is the Region-deal, now being negotiated. “We know what needs to be done. The coming period will revolve around making definite plans, expanding on how we will build in a circular way, while simultaneously repair and protect nature.” In its search for creative solutions, the Green Metropolitan Region often finds its way to the Novio Tech Campus, says Harriët. “The campus has an important economic and scientific role to play. In our efforts to set up a Region-deal, we will definitely ask the campus to help us incorporate preventative healthcare and artificial intelligence where possible.”

The region is gaining in popularity

Harriët expects more and more people to move to the region. “The west of the country is below sea level. We can safely assume that our region will therefore become more popular.” To maintain the region’s green identity, we have to start taking action. “Maintaining all the good qualities while we are growing in numbers is the biggest puzzle. Building enough new houses and simultaneously protecting nature, that’s a challenge I am very happy to work on.”

Building takes time. Looking ahead to what’s in store for the next ten years, Harriët remains realistic: “By then, we will need to have started executing our plans. If the financial side of things is in order and everyone’s on board, I’m happy. Ideally, we will have set up an investment agenda, in which we have worked out exactly how we can grow responsibly as a region.”

She concludes that the Green Metropolitan Region depends on municipalities to make things happen: “The local councils are the ones with a mandate to take action. We have to show them that connecting the biggest challenges in the region works. It’s difficult for them to do things by themselves too, that’s why we have to pull together and cooperate.”