'I Was Born Below Sea Level': Outgoing Dutch Consul General Talks Sea Level Rise At Home, In SoFla

Jul 12, 2017

In certain circles, people from the Netherlands inevitably get asked about sea level rise.

It's because for hundreds of years the country has had to keep out seawater and prevent flooding from its numerous rivers.

Nathalie Olijslager has served as the Netherlands consul general in Miami for four years. Her duties include supporting Dutch businesses in South Florida and helping Dutch citizens with passport issues. But she says she spends about half her time on water issues.
Credit Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Miami

So when it comes to handling the rising seas, urban planners and resiliency wonks worldwide look to the Dutch for inspiration.

Read more: South Florida and Netherlands Officials Swap Strategies on Sea Level Rise

Their tools don’t work everywhere. In South Florida, for instance, water can come up through our porous limestone, so those iconic Dutch seawalls and dikes aren’t very effective. But, says Dutch Consul General Nathalie Olijslager, officials here and there still learn a lot from one another.

Olijslager (that's OH-lih-sla-her, for you true public radio nerds) spoke with WLRN's Kate Stein about water, her love for the 305 and why sometimes "it's better to have two problems than one."

Olijslager's been the Dutch consul general in Miami for four years. Her last day in the post is July 14.