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Making a Splash instead of Going with the Flow

Finch & Beak’s Breda team moves into water tower office
Making a Splash instead of Going with the Flow
Publ. date 20 Aug 2018
Earlier this summer, Finch & Beak’s team in the Netherlands moved into a new office, located in a 1930s water tower in the Belcrum area of Breda. While the Dutch have a complex history with water, the ongoing drought across Europe is putting water scarcity on the collective agenda, even in areas where it was thought to be abundant.

Opened in 1934 and operational until the end of 1994, the Belcrum Water Tower was built to form “a grand accent in the silhouette of Breda", and still is one of the tallest water towers in the Netherlands. Carefully chosen materials underline the care for an aesthetically pleasing image in the style of the Amsterdam School. As of 2002, the tower is used as an office location, where Finch & Beak is one of its newest residents.    

The Water Tower’s original function, to keep the pumped-up water for the city’s water supply network under pressure, emphasizes the elaborate infrastructure needs for an effective management of water – then and today. With around a third of the country’s surface lying below sea level, The Netherlands has a complex relationship with water.  

As water management is deeply rooted in the Netherlands’ history and culture, it is only fitting that it is one of the priorities of its trade and development cooperation agenda. Efforts are focused on increasing water security and safety in urban deltas and on sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene in both urban and rural areas.    

International collaboration on water action towards SDG 6  

The most recent evaluation by the United Nations of Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water concluded that SDG 6 is ‘off track’ from its aim to make clean water, safe sanitation, and hygiene available to all by 2030. Following the High Level Panel on Water consultation, the new Valuing Water Initiative unites Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management with Peru, South Africa, Bangladesh, Mexico and the World Bank in a collaborative process aimed at making progress on financing and valuing water by building champions and ownership at all levels.

Launched at the United Nations' High Level Political Forum in New York on 17 July, the initiative is based on five core principles:  

  • Principle 1. Consider the multiple values to different stakeholders in all decisions affecting water.
  • Principle 2. Conduct all processes to reconcile values in ways that are equitable, transparent, and inclusive of multiple values. 
  • Principle 3. Value and protect all sources of water, including watersheds, rivers, aquifers and associated ecosystems for current and future generations.
  • Principle 4. Promote education and public awareness about the essential role of water and its intrinsic value. 
  • Principle 5. Increase investment in institutions, infrastructure, information, and innovation to realize the full potential and values of water.    

More concretely, it plans to draw up an agenda for action and release investment strategies, to stimulate investments in water facilities that also benefits to better public health, more food production, sustainable development and better protection of ecosystems, especially clean freshwater resources.    

Curious about the Water Tower?  

On Saturday 8 September the Belcrum Water Tower is open to the public during the National Open Monuments Day. Want to talk about accelerating sustainability over coffee at the Water Tower on another day? Contact Nikkie Vinke, Senior Consultant, at or call +31 6 28 02 18 80.   

Image source: Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed via Wikimedia Commons

Nikkie Vinke
About Nikkie Vinke

Seasoned advisor in ESG benchmarking, sustainability strategy and stakeholder engagement. |

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