Liliane Geerling joined Partners for Waters on October 1st as programme coordinator. Common themes throughout her whole career have been water, spatial adaptation, knowledge sharing and project and programme management This is one of the reasons she believes that now, in her current position, everything she has learned in the past years is ‘coming together’. But first, let’s get to know her a bit better. Welcome to the team, Liliane!
‘Since graduating as a spatial designer at the Technical University in Delft, I’ve always found it important to incorporate local contexts into my work. Water is of course part of this context and has become an increasingly important topic in my career. The city of Rotterdam, my first employer where I worked as project and programme manager, was involved in water issues at an early stage. So, for me, the current theme of “water and soil are leading” has been the starting point for me for many years already. Smart city planning and design means putting water in its natural place.
‘After working for 7 years as project manager and advisor for a spatial development consultancy agency, I joined the HZ University of Applied Sciences in Zeeland. For 10 years I gave form to the spatial development courses within their water management programme as senior lecturer and researcher. Within that programme delta countries play a pivotal role which is why I’ve worked on a lot of projects in Southeast Asia. That’s when I first encountered PfW. Back then I was “on the other side of the table” trying to win subsidy schemes. An experience I’ll now take with me in my work here.’
‘At PfW I’ll work on connecting the components of the programme: subsidies, thematic and delta approaches and making sure that lessons learned are well communicated. There are many things to focus on, like figuring out how we can distinguish ourselves better in the Dutch water sector. Or how we, with relatively small budgets, can still manage to create “flywheel effects” in the countries where we’re active. Co-creation plays a big role in this because if locals don’t embrace it, a project will never be successful.’
‘I would also like to emphasise monitoring and evaluation, a topic which hasn’t received enough attention yet. Starting up a project is one thing, keeping it going is just as important. Continuity also fits our ambition of making the water sector more circular. Of course, national and local politics play a role in this process too. New political leaders need to understand the importance of our work. This can be challenging, but it is the circumstances in which we operate. It is complex, but also exciting and sometimes a turn of events, which at first seems negative, can lead to new positive opportunities.’
Currently I’m trying to figure out what my field looks like, which is why I’m in The Hague a lot, meeting people and connecting the dots. Systems thinking and integration have always been a part of my career, so I’m used to looking at complex situations from different angles. But I feel that in this position everything comes together: learning, capacity building, knowledge sharing, managing, innovating, communicating and preparing for the future. It will also be very interesting to see how the various water related programmes within RVO can strengthen one another in the coming years. And fun!