“Environmental vision should pay attention to soil quality, health, shrinkage villages and citizen participation”.
Focus on soil quality in climate change, give more attention to health and health care, stop the mourning of shrinking villages and leave more to citizens themselves. These four recommendations are made by the province’s main consultative body to the Province of Noord-Brabant.

The province is currently working on its Environmental Vision. This is about the (future) layout of Brabant. The place where we live, work and recreate. According to BrabantAdvies, this is an excellent opportunity to respond to urgent developments such as climate change, food production, social division, unhealthy lifestyles, loneliness and increasing pressure on informal care. “These are all threats that are directly related to the living environment”, says Brabantadvies. BrabantAdvies has developed four building blocks with concrete examples for this purpose.

1. Focus on soil quality in climate change
The quality of the Brabant soil is deteriorating, while a healthy soil is badly needed to protect us against extreme weather (drought and heavy rain). “The soil is also essential for a healthy food supply. By using soil as a guiding principle in the design of Brabant, sustainable growth opportunities can be exploited.” BrabantAdvies, therefore, argues in favour of a Brabant-wide soil agreement.

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    2. Steering on health
    Health is not only about how we live but also about where we live. A healthy environment gives healthy Brabanders. BrabantAdvies, therefore, argues that the province should use ‘health’ as a guiding principle in the design of the Brabant area. “Think of sufficient clean air, a healthy soil with a variety of nature and an environment that challenges you to exercise more. Healthy citizens are the driving force of society.”

    3. Stop mourning about shrinking villages
    The cities of Brabant are growing strongly. At the same time, the population is declining in villages on the outskirts of Brabant. Many see this shrinkage as decay and decline. According to BrabantAdvies, there is too little attention for the opportunities: let villages make a difference in Brabant. “Increase the regional distinction and profile the specific qualities of villages. Accentuate the variety that creates a fascinating palette of city and country. This increases the vitality of the outlying area and the attractiveness of Brabant. The liveliness among residents will also increase.”

    4. Leave more to citizens themselves
    Brabant is threatened with dichotomy on an increasing number of fronts. It is therefore important to encourage and facilitate dialogue and interaction between citizens, BrabantAdvies says. “And letting people themselves be at the helm of solutions they come up with for the design of their living environment.” According to BrabantAdviesce, the Environmental Vision can give an important boost to the quality of living together in Brabant. “As a government, invest in an environment that invites people to meet and, for example, keep the housing market sufficiently accessible and affordable for people with a low income.”

    New role of government
    “Until recently, the government was the service agency when it comes to the spatial planning of Brabant, now the government is one of the players. Depending on the urgency of situations, the role of the government varies. What is new is that there is an increasing scope for citizens’ and businesses’ initiatives. The government does not ‘rule’ this but enters into equal partnerships. Less a government that decides from above and more a government that formulates, stimulates and facilitates ambitions.”

    Read the complete advice from BrabantAdvice here (pdf, Dutch)

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    Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.