Western REGIONAL Congress 2024
11 March 2024 to 15 March 2024 CET
The Open Call for Workshopleaders and Trainers has started and is open until the 31th of December. For those of you who already have an idea for a workshop or training please see us on the 13th of December for a Q&A session on Zoom (see your entity emails for a link or contact us via email@example.com).
We are looking forward to your applications!
Workshop application form
Trainer application form
Southern Groningen and Drenthe have a history of underground energy resources, heavily influencing the landscape until this day. To reach a sustainable future a transition to green energy is required.
The Groningen natural gas field has been a topic of numerous discussions: the gas led to significant wealth but also resulted in a crisis of gas-related earthquakes damaging homes and buildings in the region. The impact on local communities is ongoing, with a substantial restoration project spanning the entire region, permanently altering the aesthetics of historic villages. The management of the gas-related earthquakes turned into a national political crisis, eroding civilian faith in governmental competence.
Besides the damage, this crisis fueled the debate on the energy transition and the role that the province of Groningen is willing to play. Groningen has the potential to farm green energy like wind and solar energy. The geographical factors make this region a promising green energy area. On the other hand the province might not wish to be an area of energy farming again.
While gas extraction in Groningen ended in October 2023, the Wadden Sea gas fields and off-shore energy production by windmills are being considered as potential alternatives. Off-shore energy production has gained renewed relevance due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. However, the effects of gas mining and off-shore wind farms are debated due to potential ecosystem impacts on this unique UNESCO Wadden Sea area. Off-shore farming also comes with new challenges like energy transportation and energy storing.
Southern Drenthe is home to the largest oil field in Western Europe. It marks the establishment of the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) in the oil village of Schoonebeek. For a long time, it was seen as a great opportunity for locals, and NAM contributed to numerous facilities for the local community. However, due to the Groningen gas earthquakes, there is now growing suspicion against NAM, resulting in a strained relationship between the company and the villagers.
We have some Ideas planned for great excursions. But those are still only ideas. Stay tuned for updates!
Our congress accommodation is located on the Hondsrug. The area is recognized as UNESCO Global Geopark. The landscape clearly showcases its geological history by the relief and countless number of boulders from Scandinavia in the area.
A prehistoric community lived on the Hondsrug. One of the most remarkable traces that they left in the area are tombs called “Dolmen” (or: Hunnebed in Dutch) of which 52 are preserved in the Netherlands. We can explore why and how they were built.
The capital of the Province of Groningen goes by the same name ‘Groningen’, but locals refer to it just as ‘the city’. In this rural part of the Netherlands, Groningen is thé cityscape for many people in the area. It is a lively and authentic city, full of culture and history.
Our congress accommodation is located at the National Park ‘Drentsche Aa’. It is a natural and cultural valley landscape situated along a small river. The landscape of the mid-19th century has been preserved including hedges, heathlands and traditionally managed fields.
We prepared a few potential workshops for you but if you think we are missing an important aspect of our topic please let us know and apply for your own workshop!
Underneath the surface of the northern part of the Netherlands is the largest natural gas resource situated in Europe. Due to decades of mining this gas, the soil is subsiding. It happens in such a way that on average annually approx. 20 earthquakes hit the province of Groningen with a >1,5 magnitude. The earthquake epicentres happen relatively close to the surface, causing a lot of damage to many of the (historical) villages that Groningen is rich of.
You can explore: Why is the largest natural gas field of Europe situated here specifically? How are these earthquakes happening? Where have earthquakes happened? Will the earthquakes stops, now mining gas in Groningen is terminated?
Many (historical) villages in the province of Groningen are damaged due to regular earthquakes in the past decade. Inhabitants of the earthquake area not only experience financial loss, but mental and physical health is affected of many people living in this area due to the earthquakes. In 2023 it was decided by the parliament that the Dutch national government has a debt of honour to all inhabitants of the earthquake area.
You can explore: How do (man-induced) earthquakes affect the local communities? Why have the earthquakes not been managed well? Is it possible to compare the management of this area with natural earthquake areas?
In the north of the Netherlands lies the UNESCO area the Wadden Sea. The Wadden Sea is the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats in the world. The area is a biodiversity hotspot, including marine mammals such as the harbour seal, grey seal and harbour porpoise. However, this area is also considered an alternative location for gas mining, as the natural gas field of Groningen stretches out underneath the sea. Especially due to the war of Russia in Ukraine, mining gas locally has gained interest.
You can explore: Is mining gas in the Wadden Sea a good alternative from mining gas in Groningen on land? How does gas mining in the area of the Wadden Sea influence marine life?
One million houses in the Netherlands are estimated to experience foundation issues due to soil subsidence. Not just in Groningen, but in the whole north and western region of the Netherlands this is causing trouble. Besides subsiding dwellings, urban public space, infrastructure and agricultural fields are subsiding too in vulnerable areas. It is estimated that until 2050 soil subsidence will cost the Dutch society around 22 billion euro. Moreover, soil subsidence leads to significant CO2 emission.
You can explore: How can soil subsidence in urban areas be addressed? What is the impact of soil subsidence in different areas: Urban areas, industry, agriculture etc.? What sustainable options are available to keep the soil from subsiding – is it manageable?
Before mining gas in Groningen, peat was extracted from the region in southern Groningen and northern Drenthe. Peat served as a fuel and commercial extraction started in the 17th century. Almost all peat has been extracted from the soil, but the villages that came to existence due to this industry still live on today. In this peripheral and remote area of the Netherlands, the towns and villages face various issues. Among others, costs for public health are more than 100 million euro higher than other regions. The area faces braindrain and consists of an aging population.
You can explore: How can spatial intervention improve opportunities in the Peat Colonies? How can health and social issues still live on today? What is the future perspective of this region?
Besides the natural gas, the soil in the Netherlands is also very rich in nitrogen. Actually, too rich of nitrogen is the correct phrasing. The nitrogen levels are so high that nature conservation is severely suffering. Due to EU regulations on nature conservation, nitrogen emissions should drastically decline as soon as possible. It translates to almost half of all farmers in the province of Drenthe and Groningen to terminate or decrease their activity. As a consequence, in 2019 farmers and demonstrants stormed the Groningen Provincial Government buildings.
You can explore: What is the impact of nitrogen in the area of accommodation? What is the impact on local communities of the nitrogen emission regulations? How did the nitrogen crisis come about?
*Might be changed
LOCATION AND ACCOMODATION
The name “Drenthe” is believed to mean “three lands,” and once you discover its beauty, you’ll know why.
Drenthe is a province known for its vast forests and serene rivers. It’s one of the country’s least crowded regions, making it a haven for nature lovers.
For our accomodation „De Kwartjesberg“ we secured a maximum capacity of 112 people meaning there’s plenty of space for everyone.
During the breaks get ready for some serious fun! Cause we have beach volleyball court, basketball court, and ping-pong table – perfect for leisure activities.
Plus, with our unique forest location, you’ll have the privacy you deserve, surrounded by the beauty of nature. No distractions, just pure focus on making the most of your WRC experience.
🚆 All Aboard the Train: Start your adventure by hopping on a train to the beautiful city of Groningen. Enjoy scenic views along the way, and get ready to dive into the WRC experience!
🚗 Hit the Road: If you prefer the freedom of the open road, set your GPS to Gasselterstraat 9, 9533PC Drouwen. It’s a picturesque drive that will lead you to our event. Remember, the journey can be as exciting as the destination!
🚌 Bus It Up: Hop on a bus to Groningen if you’re looking for a convenient and cost-effective option. Relax, chat with fellow travelers, and let us handle the rest. 🚌
✈️ By Plane: If you’re coming from further afield, the major airports in Amsterdam and Eindhoven are your gateways to WRC 2024. Just hop on a connecting flight, and you’ll be in Drouwen in no time!
Please remember that EGEAns can apply for the Support Fund to help finance attending this event while registration for this event remains open. You can find more information here.