ASU collaborates with Dutch partners on groundbreaking sustainable development plan

landscape with two trees and a bicyclist

The Netherlands’ Municipality of Haarlemmermeer, home to the Netherlands’ world famous Schiphol Airport, is working to become one of northern Europe’s centers for sustainability-driven commerce. Arizona State University is home to the United States’ leader in sustainability education and research. Together, along with private partners in the Haarlemmermeer region, ASU and the municipality are collaborating to create the world’s first regional plan based on the principles of a “circular economy.”

The project, “Haarlemmermeer Beyond Sustainability,” will be coordinated by the Global Sustainability Solutions Center at Haarlemmermeer, a program within the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability. The center will partner with the municipality, Park 20I20 and SADC (Schiphol Area Development Company) to create a regional visioning and planning strategy that will close resource loops in the most efficient, economical and sustainable manner possible.

“Sustainability is not a voluntary option; we don’t see it as a choice. It is our duty and inevitably the new way of living – the new economy,” said John Nederstigt, alderman of the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer. “Partnering with the U.S.’ leading sustainability education and research university is crucial to our real goal to create a circular economy and society.”

Situated just southwest of Amsterdam in the basin of a drained lake, and with Schipol Airport as a primary economic driver, Haarlemmermeer hopes to create what it calls a “sustainable silicon valley,” where business, research and education institutions freely collaborate.

“SADC strives to develop and manage their business locations as sustainably as possible," said Dick van der Harst, chief operating officer of SADC. “With ASU’s study of the circular economy, we hope to further strengthen the cohesion of our sustainability actions and those of others.”

ASU’s center in Haarlemmermeer will act as facilitator for the municipality and various stakeholders in the region to define and outline the groundbreaking strategic plan. The project includes designing the circular economy strategy and identifying closed loop energy, water, matter and other resource cycles that are pragmatic, market-based and adaptable for the region.

“The challenge is to create a development strategy for the region and its various area developments as a whole that aims to achieve a high level of sustainability,” said Marta Hulley Friedman, program manager for the ASU Walton Global Sustainability Solutions Centers. “The expertise from ASU’s sustainability scientists and scholars will help develop a strategy that will have a flexible framework based on adaptive governance principles that accommodates future innovation.”

The visioning process commences in March 2014 with an executive working group of leaders from local businesses, communities and the municipal government to establish project definitions and outcomes. ASU researchers will then develop the strategy document with assistance from Dutch university partners.

“With this collaboration, the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer will become a worldwide example of the application of the Cradle to Cradle and Circular Economy principle on a real-life level,” said Coert Zachariasse, chief executive officer of Delta Development Group and director of Park 20I20. “I am delighted with the combination of political, business and academic leadership in this project, which is making a fantastic ambition a reality.”

For more information about the ASU Walton Global Sustainability Solutions Center in Haarlemmermeer, visit