Generation Delta Conference Revisited

What if, instead of merely passing the baton, different generations combined their unique strengths right now to tackle today’s wicked problems? On the 30th of November, seasoned experts, and the next generation of changemakers gathered at the “Generation Delta Conference” to merge their experiences and perspectives to help shape a collective legacy of resilience.

Photography by Sander van Wettum

During his opening speech, Resilient Delta’s Academic Director, Professor Arjan van Timmeren introduced the day’s central theme. Urging to consider Generation Delta not merely as a conventional generation, but as a cohort of all ages equipped with transdisciplinary skills and inclusivity, ready to make a change. “To achieve this goal, our focus extends beyond the ultimate outcome—a resilient, just, and sustainable society. We delve deeper, actively researching, developing, and rigorously testing new modes of collaboration.”

A message from the future

Under the guidance of the dynamic duo comprising Ruud Veltenaar, TedX speaker, and climate activist Aniek Moonen, the conference opened with a glimpse into the future through a news broadcast from the year 2053. The humorous act painted a striking picture—from grandmothers knitting immense blankets to keep freezing city warm to the harrowing image of Rotterdam’s Wijk Kralingen grappling with catastrophic floods. The resounding message echoed loud and clear: if we fail to act decisively now, what future are we moving toward?

To begin to answer this question, three workshops followed. A swift bus ride took the participants of ‘A Convergence Introduction’ to the new Resilient Delta office called the ‘Yellow Shack’ where Dr.Audrey Esteban from TU Delft and Florian Wijker from Erasmus Verbindt hosted two workshops introducing the convergence. The workshop ‘From passion to action’ was hosted by the Gluon team, which focused on knowledge integration and managing diverse group dynamics.

Jelle Burger, Resilient Delta’s Lead Innovation Assets and Tools, joined forces with Arnoud Molenaar from Resilient Rotterdam and brought scientists and Rotterdam officials together around five tables on pressing resilience issues, to explore how science and policy can learn from each other. Jelle Burger looks back on a successful workshop: “Conversations were lively and inspiring, exchanging experiences and ideas. At times, the discussions took a deeper dive, steering us towards defining a shared follow-up process, project, or meeting.”

Chats and chuckles

The “Rotterdam of the Future” panel focused on how the city is changing and the key role of diverse strategies in shaping a strong and vibrant future. Chantal Zeegers, the Alderman for Climate, Building, and Housing in Rotterdam, shared the stage with Dr. Ted Veldkamp from Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and Prof. Dr. Bregje van Eekelen from TU Delft and EUR. They discussed the main challenges facing Rotterdam’s resilience and stressed the importance of collaborating with scientists to address these challenges.

Club Haug comedian Alina Sharipova took the stage closing the programme, infusing her dark yet quick-witted comedic style to create an unforgettable stand-up experience. Her performance proved to be the way to wrap up the day by leaving the audience in stitches. Dutch singer-songwriter Nana M. Rose played live music during the social mixer with soul-stirring live music. With vocals described as “powerful, timeless, old soul.”

As Dr. Zac Taylor, Resilient Delta’s Academic Lead for Delta Systems, expressed in his closing remarks, ‘As challenging as the societal problem may be, as demanding as this new way of working is, and as overwhelming as our task may feel, it is important to remember that we’re here to make a difference together.

Photography by Sander van Wettum