Toespraak door Jan van Zanen bij de ontvangst in de Nederlandse residentie te Washington, 19 oktober 2023


Dear ambassador Tazelaar,

Dearest Birgitta,

Dear Bart (van Bolhuis), counselor for economy and climate,

Distinguished guests to this luncheon,

A warm welcome to this luncheon here at the beautiful residence of the Ambassador. And many thanks to Ambassador Tazelaar and Bart van Bolhuis for this lunch. It’s a real honor and pleasure. It’s good that you are all here today. Because collaboration between the public and private sectors is crucial for facing the cybersecurity challenges of today and in the future.

Over the past few days, I participated in the 10th edition of the Bloomberg CityLab here in Washington, D.C. I was invited in my role as Champion Mayor for Inclusive Growth, an initiative of the OECD. I have had many interesting conversations and heard speeches on a wide variety of topics. But they all had the same basis: challenges of cities. Challenges for both small cities in Africa or large megacities such as New York. And how can we as mayors and other local representatives work together to tackle these challenges.

While I was participating in CityLab, a Dutch economic mission on cybersecurity was simultaneously taking place in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. I am very aware that this has created a lot of work at the embassy and that is why I am extra grateful that you could receive me today.

The Hague is the international city of peace and justice. But also of security. And cybersecurity is a very important theme for my city. And it is precisely on this theme that the relationship between the US and The Hague is very important. The Hague now has a long-term partnership with Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland. The Governor of Maryland, Wes Moore, spoke passionately yesterday morning during the opening of CityLab about the big plans he has for his state. This may also mean additional opportunities for The Hague and her entrepreneurs in the future.

It is therefore important that we continue to invest in the relationship with the US. Our embassy can play a major role in this the coming years. The Hague has a great business climate for start-ups. We have even been named the 2nd start-up city in the Netherlands and a lot is being invested in promoting knowledge and innovation.

But cybersecurity is also important for the safety of The Hague itself. Our non-profit sector in The Hague, consisting of more than 500 international organizations, NGOs and knowledge institutions, is often the target of cyber attacks, as was recently the case at the International Criminal Court. And the citizens of The Hague will therefore also have to deal with cybersecurity. As a result, we as the city of The Hague are busy creating a future-proof and digitally safe city that takes into account the privacy, civil and human rights that apply.

The use of Artificial Intelligence will play a major role in the future. During CityLab’s Mayors Innovation Studio, I discussed with my colleague mayors the opportunities and threats of AI, and in particular generative AI. I must honestly admit that AI is still a relatively unknown subject for me, but I am very aware of its future impact. That is why I am very proud that The Hague is home to one of the largest cybersecurity clusters in Europe, with a large number of national  and international companies, organizations and knowledge institutions.

Thank you again for being here with me. To the delegation I would like to say: carry on, to our American friends: please feel invited to the next ONE conference in The Hague october 2024. And to our hosts: thank you for your hospitality.