Second Wadden Festival gave a sustainable adventure through Franeker

On 25 January 2024, more than two hundred stakeholders of the Dutch Wadden Sea region came together for a day full of inspiration and networking at the Wadden Festival. Held in Franeker, Netherlands, the event was organised by Visit Wadden, Wad van Waarde, and the Programme Donkerte van de Wadden, all three actively supporting the sustainable development of the Dutch Wadden Sea region.

Two years prior, more than 100 stakeholders signed the ambition to become the most sustainable destination in Europe by 2030 at the first edition of the Wadden Festival, a goal also at the focus of the sequel. The 2024 festival kicked off with the “WAD Duurzaam Show” in the De Koornbeurs Theatre, moderated by Harm Edens (known from 'Dit was het nieuws' and 'BNR Duurzaam'). Eileen Blackmore (Wadden van Waarde), Wendy Oude Veldhuis (Visit Wadden), René Rutte (Donkerte van de Wadden), and Renate de Backere (Waddenvereniging) joined him at the discussion table and talked about the challenges and solutions in protecting the UNESCO Wadden Sea World Heritage Site. The conflict of the World Heritage status with gas drilling, the danger of nanoplastics for humans and animals, and the importance of darkness were also discussed. The table called for utilising the shared responsibility towards a truly sustainable Wadden Sea area.

The Wadden Festival included a “Wadexpedition” to new Dutch sustainable projects and products leading through Franeker. Among these were a meditation by the Ziltepad project, a brainstorming session where visitors are challenged to come up with alternatives for using less plastic during a holiday, and explanations on light pollution and how to make your garden friendly to nocturnal animals and butterflies. In addition, the Waddengastronomie project invited the participants to taste salty vegetables. A tasting of other local products was giving at the event dinner.

Anja Domnick, Secretary of the trilateral Network Group Sustainable Tourism (NG-ST): “The Wadden Festival showcased that there are successful local, regional, national, and trilateral initiatives throughout the entire Wadden Sea World Heritage area. Becoming the most sustainable destination in Europe is only possible in partnerships. Many companies and institutions, which for their part are committed to the goals of sustainable development, contribute to this high target by creating synergies and new partnerships to strengthen the cooperation and commitment of stakeholders within the World Heritage Site.”