Building the World

March 20, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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Special Economic Zones – SEZ

Canal des Deux Mers. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Historians might trace the first SEZ to 1666, citing the Canal des Deux Mers or Canal between the Two Seas. Connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, the Canal was an economic success; using a medieval model, Pierre-Paul Riquet worked with the French government to make the route an independent fief. Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in more recent times must include Puerto Rico in 1942, and economists point to Shenzhen as the very important first SEZ in China; once a village, Shenzhen grew rapidly when advantageous business and tax laws were granted in the 1980’s to promote commerce. Recent research by the World Bank explores SEZ success factors. It must be noted that many Special Economic Zones involve water locations. The Canal des Deux Mers is not just an economic but also an environmental achievement, preserving and enhancing a waterway that today is a World Heritage Site. Can France’s Canal des Deux Mers inspire new forms of environmentally wise SEZ development? Might the Dutch success of protective dikes and land reclamation be emulated in coastal environments?  Will Frank Davidson and Ernst Frankel prove visionary in proposing a free-trade zone enhanced by artificial islands or reclaimed land from the sea offshore Israel and Jordan?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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December 16, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Disappearing Coastlines

Amsterdam, a city that knows how to build upon water. Image: wikimedia commons

Amsterdam, named for a dam built in the Amstel River, was once the richest city on earth. Dutch prosperity and success may have developed because of urban ports, but waterfront harbors bring challenges of land erosion, flooding, pollution, and other environmental challenges. The Dutch have been protecting their sinking coastline since Pliny wrote about their ingenious methods, many still in use today, as they manage the intermittent overflows of the rivers Meuse, Rhine, and Scheldt, as well as the sea. With a coastal defense safeguarding 65% of the land surface, the system of protective dikes and land reclamation of the Netherlands might offer answers to today’s disappearing coastlines, from the Maldives to Manhattan.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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January 15, 2013
by zoequinn001
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An Army of Peace?

Aerial view of the dike system in the Netherlands, from NASA, at nasa.gov.

Dikes not only saved the Netherlands from floods, but perhaps from war as well. The thousand-year-old dike army can be regarded as an authentic progenitor of the concept of “an army enlisted against nature” as proposed by William James in the essay “The Moral Equivalent of War.” Around the year AD 1100, west-Friesland had built an enclosure dike (omringkijk). At the same time, the Frisians established a “dike peace” or strongly enforced consensus that whenever a dike was endangered, family feuds must cease forthwith so that all available manpower could be mobilized to reinforce the dikes.

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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May 1, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Schiphol Airport

The name, Schiphol, means “ships’s hell.” The spot where Amsterdam’s airport lies is the drained lake bed of Haarlemmermeer (Lake of Haarlem). This lake had increased over centuries and regularly flooded, to the detriment and damage of Amsterdam and Leiden. In the seventeenth century, 170 windmills were estimated to be needed to drain the lake but the project was dropped due to expense. In 1836 when floods once again assaulted Amsterdam and Leiden, the central government began the effort to drain the lake using three steam-driven pumps. Amsterdam’s airport is now on the site, named after a lake where many ships were wrecked. Hopefully, the name bears the exact opposite for predictions regarding ships of the sky.

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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