The Hague:

Bringing sustainability to the heart of events

October 22, 2019

IMAGE: The Hague & Partners

The Hague is a green city in every sense of the word. Its 116,000 trees and 885 hectares of parkland, which equals a full 13 square metres per resident, make it the greenest city in The Netherlands. These large green spaces not only ensure that there’s always a quiet spot to enjoy nature, they also contribute to cleaner air, have a cooling effect and help to absorb excessive rain fall.


The Hague is the only major Dutch city to boast beaches. As the International City of Peace and Justice, home to the Royal Family, the Dutch Parliament and numerous embassies, it’s a very special place indeed, and large companies recognise its importance. It’s home to the headquarters of major organisations including Siemens, Huawei, T-Mobile, ING and Amazon.


The new and the old, the Dutch and the cosmopolitan; you can find them all in The Hague, nestling comfortably together. You can visit a Dutch fishing harbour or view the work of Old Dutch masters in the day, and eat in a sleek modern restaurant with exotic cuisine in the evening, or wander through the city and discover the historic buildings and royal palaces clustered in its centre.


But it’s not a city relying solely on its history to attract business and tourism. It’s focused on a greener and more sustainable present and future—not just for the good of its residents and the globe, but also to make itself the location for sustainable meetings, events and tourism.




IMAGE: The Hague & Partners

A city by the sea


“If you ride a bike from the city centre, you can have your feet in the sand within fifteen minutes,” the city proudly claims on its website – and that sand will probably either be at Scheveningen or Kijkduin, the two seaside resorts sitting on The Hague’s 11km of coastline.


The better-known Scheveningen is where you’ll find most tourists, enjoying its Beach Stadium events, theatres, cinemas, bars, restaurants, harbour, surfing beach and Pier. The Scheveningen beach hosts national and international competitions and the Pier offers amazing views from the top of its Ferris wheel. But you’ll also find the HQ of Elemental Water Makers. "We observe that fresh water scarcity, the availability of energy and climate change effects are becoming crucial global challenges. As a response, we aim to solve fresh water scarcity by using only the sea, sun, earth & wind", says the company, which offers sustainable desalination solutions using reverse osmosis and renewable energy.


Kijkduin is quieter, more laid-back and family oriented, with its restaurants and shops or its golf club in the sand dunes. Just south is the popular Zandmotor (‘Sand Engine’).


Every year, the sea discharges sand from the Dutch coast. Since The Hague is located below sea level, the hinterland is increasingly at risk of flooding. With the Zandmotor, an artificial peninsula in the shape of a hook, the municipality of The Hague aims at counteracting this phenomenon. The Zandmotor changes the shape of the coast, which leads to the formation of new streams. This experiment is unique in the world and a pilot project with which The Netherlands once again set global standards in water management – through working with the water instead of against it. The Zandmotor is quite accessible for everyone. Visitors can wander over the spacious sand reef and regularly spot seals or visit the lagoon, a hotspot for kite surfers.


Kijkduin, Schevenigen beach and the marina have a range of beach activities and water sports available, together with the chance to enjoy coastal nature and the outdoors, The Hague offers break-out activities not often found in a city.



IMAGE: The Hague & Partners

A royal city, full of history and culture


Archaeological evidence shows that people have lived in the area of The Hague since at least 3800 BC, and you can see some of these artefacts in Museon, one of The Hague’s many museums. However, The Hague as we know it today started off as a parcel of land with a country house and a pond, purchased by Count Floris IV of Holland as hunting grounds and a peaceful place to retreat from or resolve conflicts. His son William II planned to expand the house, making it fit for a royal palace. That building project eventually became the Binnenhof, the heart of the Dutch government. The Hague continued as the centre of government, surviving poverty, the Hundred Years War and a French invasion to see the Kingdom of The Netherlands come into being. Thereafter, The Hague was known as ‘the Hofstad’: not only the seat of government, but also the home of Dutch royalty.


Its reputation as a neutral, cosmopolitan, cultured and accessible city grew, and in 1899, it hosted the first international peace conference, attended by delegates from 26 countries.


If all you have is a day or two to appreciate this culture and history, the must-sees are Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring painting in the Mauritshuis, the Binnenhof (Inner Court) and the Hall of Knights, Royal Palace Noordeinde, Madurodam, De Pier and The Peace Palace. And the must-do? A trip along The Hague’s beautiful historical buildings and canals, of course.




IMAGE: The Hague & Partners

A cosmopolitan city of peace and justice


That 1899 international peace conference was the first of many held in The Hague and today it’s home to the Peace Palace, the International Court of Justice, Eurojust, Europol, the International Criminal Court and OPCW. Its status as the International City of Peace and Justice, being the second UN city, attracts government leaders, international organisations, knowledge institutions, social organisations, companies and students, sharing knowledge and working together to solve global problems. It also attracts intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations such as UNICEF and Oxfam Novib, and nearly all foreign embassies and consulates are located in The Hague. Security is integral to peace and justice, which has led to the development of the city as an important hub for cyber security in Europe and to a flourishing cluster around security and new technology called The Hague Security Delta (HSD).


Over 15,000 people and 400 organisations are working together to increase global security, especially cyber security. This makes it the ideal location for international conferences such as the Nuclear Security Summit (2014), Cyber Security Week (2017 & 2018), One Young World (2018) and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (2019).


If this all seems very serious, fear not: The Hague has a light-hearted side too and there’s plenty of entertainment. If you don’t fancy the beach, the Plein and Grote Markt have the highest concentration of pubs and clubs, while the Paard van Troje venue hosts great concerts. Plus, between May and October, you’ll nearly always find a food or music festival happening in The Hague.




IMAGE: The Hague & Partners

A green city


The Hague now leads the way in sustainability in The Netherlands and its ambitious climate plan includes the goal to become climate-neutral by 2030, 10 years ahead of the national target.


With support from organisations like The Hague Institute for Global Justice, the World Resources Institute, Climate Alliance, Eurocities, the Covenant of Mayors and the Compact of Mayors, the city is well on the way to achieving those goals, already making a difference by reducing CO2 emissions and expanding sustainable district heating. Generating renewable energy is a priority too, and the Energy & Renewables knowledge cluster in The Hague includes many companies working to make renewable energy accessible and efficient. Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Lisbeth van Tongeren (GroenLinks) has mobilised half a million Euros to speed up sustainability initiatives. “I feel an enormous drive to make sure that everyone is able to join the energy transition,” she says. “I really want to get this off the ground. Nothing is as contagious as solar panels."


Residents also have various car-sharing options, from renting out or sharing their car, either in person or via websites, to sharing a lease car. Businesses can also share cars via sites like Greenwheels and MyWheels. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency have concluded that car sharing has resulted in 30% fewer cars on the road and 18% fewer kilometres driven.


Oceans of Energy is a company that wants to use the space available on the ocean to create renewable energy. Their first offshore floating solar farm will be in operation before 2020 off the coast of Scheveningen, and if successful, larger installations will follow.


Also making good use of the ocean is the Noordzeeboerderij foundation, a company aiming to prove the potential of seaweed for the circular economy. Seaweed is a versatile plant that can be cultured without the use of land, fresh water or fertiliser. It is environmentally friendly, nutritious and can be used in many different ways – as a tasty ingredient in soups or salads or as raw material for producing bio plastics and textiles. The Noordzeeboerderij especially sees opportunities in cultivating seaweed within wind parks, agriculture and at sea. This perfectly aligns with plans for potentially setting up 1000 square metres of wind parks on the Dutch coast. The space can then be used in a multifunctional manner: “The demand for healthy, plant-based food and raw materials is increasing drastically, preferably locally produced and if possible multifunctional. The seaweed cultivation will be an important building block within the circular economy”, says Koen van Swam of the foundation Noordzeeboerderij.


In 2020, the first project in the world for producing hydrogen at sea will kick off on an oil and gas platform offshore at Scheveningen. The platform will be equipped with an electrolyser which can split water to produce hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). At sea, there are two sources of energy that can be used to power this process: gas and wind energy. Hydrogen is a clean alternative to fossil fuels, as its usage does not lead to the release of hazardous substances.




IMAGE: The Hague & Partners

A city ideal for greener meetings and events


The Hague is around 30 minutes, by road and rail, from two international airports: Schiphol and Rotterdam-The Hague Airport. It’s also well served by the region’s punctual and efficient train services.


There are over 30 bus and tramlines to quickly take you anywhere you want to go. Many buses are already electric and The Netherlands have committed to 100% emission-free buses by 2025.


The public transportation company, HTM, offers a Congress Card allowing delegates to ride on all trams and buses in The Hague area during the conference period, while the Tripkey is a contactless, pay-as-you-go public transport card allowing access to all Dutch public transport, including train, metro, bus, tram and OV-bike.





IMAGE: The Hague & Partners

Cycling is big in The Netherlands and accounts for a quarter of all journeys—in fact, there are more bikes than people! In The Hague, most main streets have dedicated cycle paths and the city has over 370 kilometres of cycle paths and bicycle lanes, plus numerous bicycle lock-ups and bicycles for hire. Cycling right across the city only takes around 45 minutes, as The Hague is quite compact—and this makes walking to most places a viable option too. On foot, you can reach the beach from the city centre in under an hour.


So getting around is easy for delegates. But what about venues and accommodation?

IMAGE: The Hague & Partners

You’re spoilt for choice for green conference venues and hotels, and many hold the Green Key Label, denoting excellence in environmental responsibility and sustainable operation within the hospitality industry.


The Fokker Terminal (a venue ‘recycled’ from an aircraft hangar!) won Best Conference Location in West Holland and the Best Conference Venue in The Netherlands 2018. It’s a CO2-neutral and water-neutral venue, with 600 rooftop panels generating 160,000 kWh of electricity annually. It constantly works to invest in sustainability and minimising the environmental impact of its visitors and suppliers, using water-saving toilets, recycled event carpet, LED lighting, 100% biodegradable disposables, and locally-sourced food, always from sustainable suppliers. Its main space, which is dividable, can hold up to 1,200 delegates, while 18 former classrooms are ideal for meetings, workshops, smaller events or break-out areas.




IMAGE: The Hague & Partners

World Forum The Hague offers the largest auditorium in Holland, with capacity for around 2,160 people, and 36 breakout rooms. Together, they offer capacity for a total of 5,000 people. It holds the Golden Green Key label and is a member of the Green Meeting Industry Council, an international consultative body promoting the ‘greening’ of the meeting industry. 100% of its energy is renewable and new air-conditioning systems, the frequency-related pumps, and installation of LED lights has seen its energy consumption drop.


IMAGE: The Hague & Partners

The Louwman Museum, which houses the world’s oldest private collection of automobiles, was awarded ‘Best Event Location of 2017’ at the Meeting Business Event (MBE) in The Netherlands. It uses a Heat Cold Storage (WKO) installation, using geothermal energy for heating and cooling, and its building management system regulates heating, cooling and air conditioning individually in each room for maximum efficiency and energy is generated by over 1,000 rooftop solar panels. The Museum makes a novel conference venue and has a total capacity of approximately 1,000 people, with a theatre and meeting space than can each accommodate over 300 people.


The Accor hotel group own a number of Novotel, Ibis and Mercure hotels in The Hague and is part of the Planet21 programme, which has 21 objectives relating to local sourcing, diversity and water, energy and waste management.


All Accor Hotels have water-saving showerheads. Guests staying more than one night are asked to re-use towels and, if staying at the Mercure Den Haag Central, have the option of skipping a stay over clean of their room in return for a voucher to be spent in the hotel. Most of The Hague’s Accor hotels participate in the ‘Too Good to Go' project, which saves unused items for food bags that are sold cheaply, thereby reducing food waste.


Court Garden Hotel is the first eco-designed hotel in The Netherlands, receiving an official Green Declaration from the Ministry of Environment, the Energy Label A+ and the Green Key Gold label. Renovated using recycled and energy-saving materials, it’s completely insulated to keep cold, heat and noise to a minimum. Energy-saving lamps, sensor lights, a keycard energy-saving device in the rooms and the use of a gas absorption warming pump all help to reduce energy consumption. These measures have seen the hotel’s carbon footprint, gas usage and electricity usage more than halve.


The hotel only uses 100% organic and fair-trade products and was awarded the 100% EKO-trade certificate as a result. It also has 20 bicycles available to rent, ensuring delegates have a green way to get to their conference.





IMAGE: The Hague & Partners

Sustainable dining will be on your wish list if you’re planning a greener event, too, and luckily The Hague has plenty of ‘green’ places to eat. Here are just a few:


Logisch (‘Logical’) aims to educate people about eating local and eating organic. Their wines and produce are all organic, and the restaurant interior is constructed of sustainable materials.


Instock uses surplus produce, gathered every day from local supermarkets and suppliers, to make innovative dishes.


Oogst is the bistro offshoot of Restaurant Calla’s. Both eateries use seasonal and sustainable ingredients in their dishes, and vegetables and herbs from their own ‘Laantje Voorham' garden.


There are many vegetarian and vegan restaurants to choose from throughout the city centre as well.


The Hague has great green credentials, fantastic sustainable venues, accommodation and restaurants, and year-round tourism opportunities. Its Convention Bureau has extensive experience in event management and a can-do mentality, offering familiarisation tours so that you can see for yourself why The Hague is the ideal location for sustainable events and meetings.


So why not take a trip to this sustainable city by the sea?






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