It’s the work of a CVB to promote its destination’s assets, but a new umbrella organization formed last year in The Hague — called The Hague & Partners and consisting of The Hague Marketing Bureau, The Hague Convention Bureau, and The Hague Business Agency — has brought that effort to a local stage.
In 2017, The Hague & Partners created an awards program to shine a light on local innovative organizations and professionals. This year, they expanded that program to showcase entrepreneurial companies whose sustainability initiatives leverage The Hague’s unique location as the only Netherlands city on the sea.
The Hague & Partners first awards ceremony last year served to give its newly minted partnership wider community and media exposure. Mandy Groenewegen, marketing and communication specialist at the convention bureau, told Convene via email that the evening event celebrated its combined efforts to promote the city and focused on economic development.
Three local organizations were recognized in 2017 for their work in the leisure, conference, and business sectors. The awardees, respectively, were the Gemeente Museum, international conference venue World Forum, and technical services company Jacobs, which moved its European headquarters to the city.
For the second annual awards event this past September, The Hague & Partners chose “Seaside Celebrations” as its theme, taking its cue from Scheveningen, the first beach resort in The Netherlands, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. The event venue — Zuiderstrandtheater, the only theatre in the Netherlands that is located directly on the coast — reinforced that theme.
The Hague’s North Sea location also presented opportunities beyond the leisure resort angle. “Everyone in our city is very fond of the sea and the coastline,” Groenewegen said, “but what else does the sea have to offer our city and visitors in the future? This is why ‘innovation at sea’ became the main focus for the awards show.”
With an emphasis on innovation and sustainability, the event not only spotlighted three awardees, but gave five local societal and environmental groups stage time. The groups presented their work to an audience of 350 guests that included investors, entrepreneurs, NGOs, knowledge and governmental institutions, and business events and tourism professionals.
The five local innovators who showcased the work they are doing to move The Hague and society toward a more sustainable future were:
Elemental Water Makers, which has developed a desalination system that can turn sea water into drinking water using sustainable energy.
The Noordzeeboerderij, or seaweed farm, works to promote seaweed as a source of sustainable food.
Sailing Innovation Centre supports the sporting ambitions of the Netherlands in sailing, and fosters new innovations by collecting data on the sea, boats, and sailors.
TNO Maritiem & Offshore works on a number of projects, including underwater Wi-Fi to conduct wireless underwater inspections of wind parks on the sea.
DeltaSync/BLUE21, a collective of engineers and architects, has specialized in constructing floating buildings.
“We selected five innovations that, in our opinion,” Groenewegen said, “are very diverse and promising for the future of innovation at sea.”
A Larger View
Sustainability is an ongoing concern for The Hague Convention Bureau, which in addition to promoting the city as a leisure destination, also works closely with teams in city hall and various local knowledge partners to showcase developments in sustainable energies, climate control, and other initiatives. Those efforts have recently paid off — the city has secured sustainable events related to renewable wind and ocean energy as well as climate control, Groenewegen said.
“The world’s environmental challenges are very close to home,” The Hague Convention Bureau Director Nienke van der Malen said in a statement. “We are highly aware of the fragility of our environment, and take the need for sustainability very seriously.”
Moreover, The Hague Convention Bureau has set its sights on conferences that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted in 2015 and cover social and economic development issues including poverty, hunger, health, education, global warming, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment, and social justice.
“These goals in particular are an important asset, as we are considered the City of Peace and Justice,” Groenewegen said. “In The Hague, tens of thousands of people are working every day to build a more peaceful and just world. People come to The Hague from all over the world to work together on solutions to global problems.”
The Hague Awards Winners
The Hague & Partners solicited nominations from their partners for the three award categories in 2018: Newcomer, Personality, and Success. The winners were selected by vote — a combination of more than 9,000 public votes, The Hague Convention Bureau’s Mandy Groenewegen said — in addition to a special jury’s input.
In the Newcomer category, Samasource was lauded for its mission is to help reduce global poverty via the online platform SamaHub, which assists low-income people in developing countries in transforming their lives by connecting them to dignified work.
The Personality Award was given to Danny Frietman — “a true connector dedicated to knowledge sharing,” according to a press release — for his work coordinating Dutch delegations at leading international tech festivals.
For its efforts in boosting The Hague’s image as the only Dutch city by the sea, De Pier, a food boulevard and shopping and leisure attraction, earned the Success award.
Curt Wagner is an associate editor at Convene.
For more on The Hague & Partners award program, visit theawardsthehague.com.