Bregje van Wesenbeeck
(photo: Marijn Scheeres)
“I want to bring science to people who need it”
During ten years of work in the field of coastal and flood risk management I have come to the realization that there is very little actual evidence what extreme conditions like floods and storms do to coastal ecosystems, and, vice versa, how ecosystems affect these conditions. That we simply do not know this, can make people who depend on the protective power of ecosystems unsafe. That is what drives me to set up experiments to systematically test functioning of ecosystems under extreme waves and surges. I think to effectively work with ecosystems for flood risk reduction we need to look over the boundaries of our disciplines and to join forces!
“We are still mainly testing the classical Dutch dikes with hard rock slopes. I want to help design greener flood defences”
Engineering is like magic: using formulas and reasoning you can predict how large structures will work even before they exist. And unlike magic, it actually works! With this knowledge I want to help design greener flood defences. However, we should be able to calculate and proof the strength of the resulting hybrid structures with certainty. For this we need full scale tests. This is the best way to ensure that these structures are actually safe.
“For flood safety tomorrow, we must test solutions today”
Working on coastlines across the globe has taught me this: the future safety and prosperity of millions of people depends on sustainable, nature-based coastal defense systems. To make this happen, we need to fundamentally understand how coastal ecosystems work and thrive. We need answers to questions like: What safety, food, energy, recreational and ecological services can they provide for society? How stable and reliable are these services under global changes like climate change, sea-level rise and growing populations? To test solutions that will affect so many lives, we, scientists and (bio-)engineers are seeking the support of the crowd. This is not the time to wait until a single organization or government steps up to solve problems as big as this. Be part of it and help to make it happen.