Margot Drost

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'Living in a delta region means we have to think about the future'

Flood defence consultant Margot Drost joined Witteveen+Bos with an international ambition. Nowadays, she is happy working on complex water-related issues in the Netherlands.

Barcelona, Bolivia and Kazakhstan

‘During my civil engineering degree, I chose to concentrate on water management because I had the ambition of contributing to a better and fairer world. I studied on exchange in Barcelona, did an internship in Bolivia, and completed a graduation project in Bangladesh. I chose Witteveen+Bos because it allowed me to develop my expertise while also providing international opportunities. When they were looking for someone to go to Kazakhstan, I put my hand up. It was an opportunity to realise my ambitions. I ended up spending six months there. It was a challenging time which really broadened my outlook. Back in the Netherlands, I eventually made the move from water management to flood defences. I wanted to focus on bigger, more integrated projects.’

Dyke reinforcements

‘I now work as a flood defence consultant and am also a group leader. Most of my work involves dyke designs or issues related to them. In 2023, for the national government, we reviewed all dyke assessments carried out since the Water Act 2017: What’s the current state of affairs and what does that mean in terms of costs? One of our most significant conclusions was that even more money should be devoted to water security. By conducting more stringent assessments early on, the Netherlands can ensure the resources available to it are used as efficiently as possible.’

The Netherlands as delta region

‘There’s no acute danger of flooding in the Netherlands; we’re generally more concerned about the future. That’s because we live in a delta region. We drain quite a lot of water via rivers and the coast is threatened by rising sea levels. At the beginning of my career, I wanted to contribute to ensuring basic water services were in place around the world. Nowadays, I derive great satisfaction from working on complex water-related issues in the Netherlands. What do the consequences of climate change mean for our work? Are we doing what’s right or do we need to rethink our approach? Through the work I do, I’m genuinely contributing to a future-proof Netherlands.’