Netherlands: NL 2023, a vision for the future

Netherlands: NL 2023, a vision for the future

Establishing high-level cultural institutions in disadvantaged neighborhoods, beyond the usual 'elitist' locations, upgrading the neighborhood, developing a Dutch 'Harvard', companies who sponsor parks and nature reserves, encouraging 'circular migration' instead of closing the doors. These are several points in the vision of the future NL 2023, developed by a group of highly-educated Moroccan-Dutch in an attempt to break through the polarized social debate.

This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog -

"We want to jump over the shadows of fear, distrust and the issues of the day' NL 2023 write in an open letter to the 'future cabinet'. The initiative is not a political manifest, the group emphasizes, but a civil initiative of a group of bi-cultural Dutch who occupy a special position in society. They could, they say, be a connecting link between the Dutch community and the migrant groups, both of which they know well.

Such a link is badly needed, the group says, referring to the outcome of the elections and the divided political landscape. Their vision is not intended as a ready made product. NL 2023 calls "as many Dutch as possible to respond to to our initiative". They want to join civil forces and to finally offer the future PM a broad-based civil manifest.

The group first showed up in March 2009 in the Volkskrant,calling itself "Young Professionals". They were annoyed by the grim debate in the Netherlands, by the rhetoric and one-liners and the lack of content. "We remaining on our own with the problems, while the discussion should be raised to the level of solutions," they said. they noted that many people, both ethnic Dutch and immigrants, needed a new perspective. Their plans weren't concrete yet. But the starting point was the thought that working on a joint vision for the future could influence the social climate in a positive way. "Working together cultivates mutual trust."

After publishing the article, there was a long silence from the group, which renamed itself NL 2023. For months the members conducted behind-the-scenes talks with experts in various fields. They spoke with economist Rick van de Ploeg, former minister of Development Cooperation Jan Pronk, former National anti-terrorism Coordinator Tjibbe Joustra, legal philosopher Paul Cliteur, football trainer Foppe de Haan, publicist Bart Jan Spruyt, the CEO of Schiphol Jos Nijhuis and others. In closed conferences they presented the first building blocks of their vision and asked for feedback.

René Paas, then CNV chairman, warned in such a conference of the 'blind spots' of the present. In the 1960s it was thought that computers could never be faster. In short: "We know nothing of the future". Nevertheless, Paas embraced the initiative. He put it in the context of the American report "Global Trends 2025: A transformed World", by the National Intelligence Council.

The report stressed that "fossilized Europe" would only survive economically if it succeeded in integrating its Muslim minorities. In other words: we badly need the Moroccan, Turkish, Muslim workers. "What is now considered a big problem, could be the solution. Ethnic Dutch shouldn't only embrace NL 2023 as a favor, but also - and maybe mostly - for their own interests," says Paas, now chairman of Divosa, the association of social services managers.

In the open letter, NL 2023 write out their ambitions in various policy fields: education and upbringing, religion and public domain, art and culture, employment, sports, town planning, security and foreign policy.

From the letter:

Religion and the public domain

In 2023 the Netherlands is a country where the background and religion of 'the other' no longer matters. We are all Dutch. We proceed from the power of the difference. The maximal use of civil power and the rule of law are important anchor points. Politician or civilian, everybody has a moral responsibility to connect people, not to drive them apart. The basic starting point is that everybody addresses each other in a respectful manner. People apply their forces and talents on a local level. People look at each other in the eye again, and the neighborhood merits a revaluation. Social interaction on a neighborhood level leads to a shared system of values and norms (a 'moral Esperanto'). This leads to collective responsibility for one's own living environment and with it the public domain. It's important that municipalities invest in this civilian power. If all municipalities take this seriously, there will be a powerful, national, social structure and we'll be more resilient as a country. Civilians should feel more responsible for the well-being of their country. Now the government is too often turned to.

Source: Volkskrant (Dutch)

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