Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving

Posted by Carolyn on November 19, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Last week I was the guest of the Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving (PBL), or Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency, where I was a keynote speaker at their annual conference. The English translation of PBL is actually rather misleading, since it is the result of the recent merger of two Dutch government agencies, for planning and the environment, and a closer translation would be something like the ‘Planning Bureau for the Living Environment’. Now that’s a refreshing title for a government agency: one that renders the environment, not as some remote thing we can either protect or destroy, but as something in which we already live. One that treats planning, not as some abstract chess-game, but as something inexorably bound to culture and the natural world. The PBL is headed up by Maarten Hajer, a lively and highly-respected Professor of Social Politics at the University of Amsterdam, and is staffed by a bevy of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed architect/anthropologist/philosopher polymaths. I like the Dutch. We could learn a lot from the way they do things. (As indeed, in the past, we always have…)

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