Watertech talents return

Wetsus Talent programme is motivating students to seek a future in the water sector. The young researchers are returning out of enthusiasm and impressions they made. That is the conclusion of recent research from the group. Currently, two students that followed the programme are actively researching at Wetsus.

Former honors student Nika van Asselt has led research on the effectiveness of the Wetsus high school water programmess: honours, lab days, and research aid. Nika: “We have seen many positive responses, especially from the honours program. It has helped students not only to make a definitive choice for the water sector but has made them go through personal development too. The students were more confident and knew how to effectively communicate their ideas after the program.”

Similar positive responses were found from students who sought out help at the talent team for their school’s scientific research. Nika: “students are impressed by how much they learned and are glad they could use the scientific facilities at Wetsus that they would have never gotten into touch with were it not for their experience here. A sentiment the schools share on the lab days.”

And currently, two students that were familiarized with Wetsus from a young age are researching here.

Joost ter Haar: talent first spotted at primary school

Joost Ter Haar first got in touch with Wetsus in primary school. “I vaguely remember one experiment we did at school with the instructors of Wetsus. I recall violently shaking a bottle to create a vortex,” tells Joost. “I wasn’t very good at following the instructions, so I enjoyed the active nature of the experiment,” he says laughingly.

“I’m not sure that was the very moment that sparked my interest in water technology, but I know I enjoyed it,” tells Ter Haar. Though, in some way or another, he did find himself pursuing a career in the sciences. “I don’t know what exactly made me choose biology. However, I know I liked the natural sciences from pretty early on.”

Once studying microbiology, Ter Haar found himself working a side job at a brewery and Vitens. “At Vitens, I got to test the drinking water as a microbiology analyst,” he says, “and got hooked on water technology, or at least the biological side of it.”

And by now, he is finishing his studies in water tech. “Even though I’m still studying, I got a job offered at Vitens, which I will gladly take on,” Ter Haar explains. “I hope I can improve the methods there. I want to be an analyst of the future. That’s why I’m happy to do research at Wetsus and keep improving myself and the science.”

André Baron: talent first spotted at high school

One more driven student is André Baron – a second-year student at the Wetsus Academy. “I first got in touch with water technology through a friend. He was doing his profile-related high school research on blue energy. And although I found it interesting, I didn’t immediately fall in love with the topic,” though André did go on to study environmental sciences.

“It was here that I truly found my interest in water technology as I chose to study my major courses in the science.” There were plenty of choices, but André was sold from the beginning: “I recollected the experience of my friend and the fantastical stories of my dad about blue energy and how it would be thefuture.”

One bachelor thesis at Wetsus later and André knew that he – for sure – had found his calling as a water technologist. A title that he is about to earn by finishing his thesis on blue energy.

Being an inspiration

Long-time member of the talent team Jan Jurjen is excited to see the students returning. “You get so much energy from working and having worked with these people. It is amazing to see them throughout the lifelong learning program.”

Having recently celebrated his 12.5-year anniversary at Wetsus, Jan Jurjen has witnessed a great number of students returning over time. “A multitude of students have come back for their school projects, stating that they had such a great time last time.

And, next professional bonding over water technology, you develop personal bonds with some of the students. Some I spoke to years ago recently invited me to go on a sailing trip with them. The same goes the other way – when we organized a science fair, the number of youngsters that were motivated to help out was extraordinary. Even students that lived 200km away, came to help out in Leeuwarden.

Working with the age group of 14 to 17-year-olds is so motivating to me. They are so energetic, so real, like no one else. Therefore I am very grateful to help out. I would like to encourage everybody to be involved in such projects – even if you’re not sure that it suits you. Be an inspiration. You never know where you’ll meet your past students again.”

Towards an economy of value preservation | By Niels Faber


The realisation of a circular economy has thus far unfolded under the assumption that it would fit within existing economic arrangements. In practice, we witness many circular initiatives struggling to give shape to their ambitions, let alone develop to maturity. These past months, various material recycling organisations terminated their activities, seeing virgin alternatives from other parts of the world flooding the market at prices against they cannot compete. If the transition towards a circular economy (i.e. an economy of value preservation) is to be taken seriously, a new perspective on value in our economic system seems unavoidable, as the rewriting of the rules of the economic game. At this moment, current perceptions of value stand in the way of this transition both at micro as well as macro levels. Several contours for a collective exploration of new directions of value and economic configuration that foster circular transition will be addressed.

Searching Innovation for the Common Good | By Cees Buisman


In his key note he will conclude after a life of innovations that it is impossible that humanity will stay within the save planetary boundaries with innovation only. We should be more critical about the behaviour of the rich population in the world and more critical about new innovations that prove to be dangerous, like the PFAS crisis shows at this moment. In his keynote he will investigate how to look at the world that can stay within the save planetary boundaries, how should we change ourselves? It is clear if we only talk about the words of science and systems we miss the essential words of how we should cooperate and change ourselves. And his search for coherent save innovations. Which innovations will be save and will lead to a fair and sustainable world? And will lead to a world we want to live in.

Future-fit economic models: What do they have in common – how can they join forces? | By Christian Felber


There is a growing number of new sustainable, inclusive, cohesive, participatory, just and humane economic models. A possible next step in the discourse about them is the comparative analysis in order to find out key commonalities, potential synergies, and “requirements” for a future-fit economic model. The author and initiator of the Economy for the Common Good provides an overview of these „new sustainable economic models“ and compares them according to underlying values, principles, and practical ways of implementation. The keynote addresses the cooperative spirit of the conference and prepares the ground for its public highlight on the eve of June 3rd, the round table with representatives of diverse future-fit economic models.

The era of postgrowth economics | By Matthias Olthaar


The scientific debate on whether economies should always continue to grow increasingly becomes a political and societal debate. On the one hand further growth for the most affluent countries seems neither possible nor valuable, but on the other hand there is still lack of understanding and knowledge what a non-growing economy should look like and could best be governed. In this lecture we discuss various policy measures that can be realistically implemented, take into account government finances and aim at a higher quality of life despite a non-growing economy.

Democratic principles for a sustainable economy | By Lisa Herzog


Democracy is under pressure, and less and less able to stir the economy into a sustainable direction. Therefore, to stabilize democracy and to make possible the socio-ecological transformation of the economy, democratic principles need to be implemented directly in the economy. This is not only a matter of morality, but also has practical advantages. Democratizing the economy can increase legitimacy and take advantage of the “knowledge of the many” to accelerate the transformation. Democratic practices, especially deliberation, allow bringing together different forms of knowledge, which is crucial for the local implementation of principles of social and ecological sustainability. This talk explores what this idea means in more concrete terms, from democratic participation in the workplace to the democratization of time.

Market, state, association, and well-being. An historical approach | By Bas van Bavel


Over the past decades, markets have conventionally been seen as the best instrument to stimulate economic growth and enhance prosperity and well-being. The automatic link between markets and economic growth is increasingly questioned, however, as well as the automatic link between economic growth and enhancement of well-being. This has led to attempts to capture well-being development more directly than through GDP per capita figures and has produced a more variegated picture of well-being growth. Also, this has led to a shift of focus to other coordination systems than the market, as primarily the state but increasingly also the association. Analyses of the historical record suggest that especially the latter could be a vital component in future well-being.