TiBE 台北國際書展 2024.2.20-25

Bridging Horizons: Netherlands and Taiwan – A Journey Through Past, Present, and Sustainable Future

26 January 2024 /

Connecting Past and Present

Like many post-colonial societies, The Netherlands is reconciling with the impact of its past exploits abroad and within Dutch society. Discussions surrounding racial and social justice, including the recognition of colonial history, addressing racial disparities, and fostering inclusivity, are gaining ground.

Immigration policies and the integration of diverse communities continue to be contentious topics. Discussions often centre around issues of cultural identity, social cohesion, and the impact of immigration on the labour market and public services. The Netherlands, for a country of which 35% is located below sea level, is also in continuous debates over climate change policies.

Balancing economic interests with environmental sustainability, addressing issues like rising sea levels, threats to biodiversity, and achieving carbon reduction targets are sources of ongoing controversy.

Celebrating Diversity & Inclusivity

Taiwan and the Netherlands share an open and tolerant perspective on many issues. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage in 2001 and in Asia, Taiwan was the first to do so in 2019. Additionally, with their water-bound physical contexts, and their long history of trade, both the Netherlands and Taiwan bear the tracings of exchange, particularly in the composition of their respective populations. In the Netherlands, this is most prominent in the City of Rotterdam, where 46% of residents have an immigrant background.

Nevertheless, in spite of its openness and renowned tolerance, the Netherlands still face challenges that underscore the complexities of fostering a truly inclusive society. Instances of discrimination, racism, and the integration of migrant populations persists in Dutch society.
Additionally, gender disparities persist in the workplace, with women often facing challenges in achieving equal pay and representation in leadership roles. However, efforts are being made at various levels of society to address these challenges, from government initiatives, advocacy groups, and increased public awareness, all contributing to an ongoing dialogue aimed at creating a more diverse and inclusive Netherlands.

Dutch Design

Dutch design is well-respected in the world, as it is known for an innovative, minimalist, and functional approach merging aesthetics with practicality. Embracing a philosophy rooted in simplicity, creativity, and social consciousness, it has made a significant impact in various creative fields, from graphic design to architecture and industrial design. One hallmark of Dutch design is its emphasis on functionality without sacrificing aesthetics. Designers often strive for clean lines, simplicity, and a focus on the user experience. This ethos is epitomized in the famous Dutch design movement known as De Stijl, led by artists such as Piet Mondrian and Gerrit Rietveld.

De Stijl's influence is evident in many aspects of Dutch design, emphasizing geometric shapes, primary colours, and a commitment to abstraction. Dutch architects are celebrated for their ingenuity and sustainable practices. The country has produced renowned architects producing groundbreaking designs and urban theories. Sustainability and functionality are integral aspects of Dutch architecture, with an emphasis on creating spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally conscious.

A commitment to social design is another key aspect of the Dutch approach to sustainability. Designers often consider the broader impact of their creations on society and the environment and often approach their craft with a bold directness and cheeky sense of humour.


As in Taiwan, sustainability in the Netherlands is articulated as a strong ambition for economic policies and societal values. Known for its innovative and pragmatic approach, the Netherlands has implemented a range of initiatives to address environmental challenges. One of the notable aspects of sustainability in the Netherlands is its commitment to renewable energy. A pioneer in wind energy, with extensive wind farms both onshore and offshore, windmills, an iconic Dutch symbol, have been reimagined into modern wind turbines harnessing clean energy, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 49% by 2030, and 95% by 2050.

The Dutch government has also set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a circular economy, and is advancing on numerous additional fronts including sustainable transportation, water management, and agriculture. In terms of sustainable transportation, cities are designed with extensive bike lanes, bike-sharing programs, and bike-friendly infrastructure, encouraging citizens to cycle. An impressive 27% of all urban journeys are made by bicycle. With a significant portion of the country below sea level, innovative water management systems, including the famous Delta Works, help mitigate the impact of rising sea levels and flooding.

Finally, the Netherlands is the second largest food exporter in the world, so Dutch agriculture is a vital sector for the country. It is also evolving toward more sustainable practices. Initiatives focus on reducing chemical usage, promoting organic farming, and exploring alternative protein sources. All of these efforts demonstrate the Netherlands' commitment to developing a greener future as well as resilient infrastructure.