This is how Dutch Wavemakers are making a difference

05-06-2018   Olympic windsurf champion Dorian van Rijsselberghe and Dutch water management advisor Bo Schreur, talked to 2,500 young adolescents when the Volvo Ocean Race had a stopover in Newport, USA.  As a result of this brainstorming session, Newport schools are adopting a Dutch education program called ‘Proef de Zee’ (taste the ocean).

Proef de Zee is a program where elementary aged children learn that enough, clean and safe water is not a given.  Young adolescents who are still have to make a decision about their future professions come into contact with the versatility of water and the technical aspects.  The Topsector Water sees chances to education people around the world to become more water-conscious.  The Netherlands will act as the center of expertise.

Bo (23) and Dorian (29) are two of the thirty top athletes and Watermanagement students who are raising awareness for the consequences of climate change. They do this by working under the Dutch Wavemakers flag, a program from the ZSL foundation who work together with the ministry of Infrastructure and Waterstaat and Foreign Affairs.

Using social media as a medium, Bo, Dorian and their co-ambassadors, have reached more than 300,000 young people.  During big watersports events like the Volvo Ocean Race, World Cups, European Cups and the Olympic games, these ambassadors strike up conversations about water and the environmental issues in a playful manner. 

Dorian was present during the Volvo Ocean Race in Newport, where he recalls, “During my surfing meets I often find a piece of plastic attached to the fin of my board.  This concerns me and makes me think about… ” Plastic in the sea has consequences for both animal habitat and humans.

Bo, a graduated Watermanagement student of the HZ University of Applied Sciences in Vlissingen and Middelburg in The Netherlands, is researching the consequences of climate change.  As water manager, she is working with challenges like drought and floods.  At the moment, she is developing natural dikes which are strong enough to prevent flooding. A very interesting concept, since most of The Netherlands lies below sea level.  


De Topsector Water anticipates a shortage of manpower to manage all the different water challenges the world faces in the future.  “That’s why we need the younger generation,’ says Dorian. ‘We travel around the country to playfully promote an education in water management so young people can make a difference in their own future.”  This is possible in Zeeland, the southern part of The Netherlands, at the HZ University of Applied Sciences in where Bo received her education.

Bo: “There is nothing better than an education in water management when you are in the middle of the southwestern Delta.  This area is surrounded with water, resulting in a hands-on learning experience. This program has two specializations to choose from. Besides Aquatic Eco technology you can also specialize in Delta Management.  In the field of water, you can also choose the program Civil Engineering. In the next academic year, the University will start a new minor called Offshore Renewable Energy and in 2019 they will start the master River Delta Development.”