The world heritage list currently consists of about 1,100 world heritage sites, twelve of which are Dutch. Because the World Heritage Committee was unable to meet last year due to the corona virus, two weeks have now been set aside for the meeting in Fuzhou, China. A total of more than fifty nominations will be discussed from 16 to 31 July.
The Colonies of Benevolence in Drenthe were built in 1818 to give poor people from the big cities a better life in the countryside. There were free colonies for poor people and unfree ones for thieves, for example, explains Drenthe provincial executive Cees Bijl. “If you did something in the colonies that was not allowed, there was another colony where punishment was given.”
In the first twenty years alone, 900,000 people settled there. Bijl calls it revolutionary that two hundred years ago, poverty alleviation was considered. “Not to give people bread, but to give grain so they could bake themselves. There was also a kind of health insurance fund: if you couldn’t work, you still got compensation. This was a revolutionary idea. They came from France and England here to see how they had this set up.”
Bijl is happy with the news that the colonies are on the World Heritage List. “The story is still fairly unknown,” he says. According to him, a million Dutch people are descended from people who have lived in the Colonies of Benevolence. “Also many well-known Dutch people, such as spaceman André Kuipers.”
The New Dutch Waterline was also added to the list earlier today. Together with the Defense Line of Amsterdam, which has been on the list since 1996, the line forms the Dutch Water Lines. The New Dutch Waterline runs from Muiden to the Biesbosch and is 85 kilometers long.