The Hague may not be top of your bucket list. But with some world-class sights, a truly international scene, and a coastline loved by surfers, the Netherlands’ third city and former capital is well worth a detour. Still need convincing? Read on…
1. It’s as international as it gets
With over half a million inhabitants, The Hague is home to more than 100 nationalities, with 115 embassies and consulates and more than 130 international organisations based in the city. Tens of thousands of people work every day to build a better world in what’s known as the “international city of peace and justice”.
From major institutions like the International Court of Justice to the numerous informal intercultural meetups, there’s no excuse for a lack of inspiration or thought-provoking ideas.
2. It’s an impact city
The Hague is not only de coolste startup hub in the country – home to a growing community of startups, creative entrepreneurs, artists, hackers and innovators. It has also declared itself the world’s first Impact City, investing in the people and ideas that bring both economic success and social impact. Last year, The Hague hosted Impact Fest as part of Startup Fest Europe.
What kind of initiatives have emerged here? The New Farm boasts the largest rooftop farm in Europe and an ambitious incubator programme focusing on urban farming. Slow fashion movement i-did creates beautiful products from waste textiles for clients including Ikea, Heineken and H&M. Assembly Partner is an electronics manufacturer that creates opportunities for those excluded from the job market. And Seepje makes cleaning products based on 100% natural ingredients from Nepal.
3. It’s got great infrastructure and easy connections
With smooth connections and a compact city centre, it’s super easy to get from one meeting to the next – or to squeeze in the sights in between. Window-shop in the Unesco-listed 19th century arcade De Passage, see world-famous art (tick Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring off your list), explore the museums, or view the world’s oldest still-functioning parliament building.
It’s easy to get there and away, too: just 50 minutes by train from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. If you’re flying, The Hague Airport (near Rotterdam) is 40 minutes away, while Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is a 30-minute journey.
4. It’s a surprisingly outdoor city
When you need a break from meeting rooms or screens, it’s easy to get some fresh air. The city has 11 kilometres of coastline – it’s actually a prime spot for kitesurfing, windsurfing and wave surfing – and a third of the city is green space: check out some beautiful nature spots (or, if it’s more your thing, the city’s best beach bars). When it’s time to refuel, our friends in The Hague particularly recommend a local craft beer on the waterside terrace of Kompaan and a bite from Mama Kelly or Capriole.
5. The Netherlands does social entrepreneurship support really well
“The Netherlands has a thriving social enterprise movement, from international frontrunners like Fairphone and Triodos Bank to locally rooted enterprises that offer solutions for disadvantaged communities”, says Stefan Panhuijsen, policy director at Social Enterprise NL (a Euclid Network member). “In recent years the ecosystem for social entrepreneurs has really improved, and we’re happy to share our lessons with an international audience.”
Over the past five years, five new network platforms have been established in the country and nearly 40 different competitions, accelerators and incubators have started, according to the Dutch Innovation Mission.
What about the people behind the businesses?
“Entrepreneurs here are very creative and have tons of new ideas for positive impact”, says Anna Menenti from The Hague city government. “They’re conquering new markets by doing good and doing business.”
Discover The Hague while meeting other social entrepreneurs, investors and public institutions at the Euclid Summit (11-12 April), a European gathering that will explore how to grow ecosystems for social impact. Find out more: www.euclidsummit.eu