Partners Cities: The Hague

Background information about the city
The Hague is located in the centre of Europe, bordered by the North Sea. The port of Scheveningen is important to the Dutch fishing industry. The port’s biggest operator, the Norfolk Line, has a major shipping-route to and from Felixstowe.
The city has 460.000 inhabitants of multicultural ethnicity.

The Hague is the heart of political power in the Netherlands. It hosts the residence of the Queen, the government and the foreign embassies.

Between 1230 and 1280, a castle was built where the Binnenhof now stands in The Hague. Though it started off as a small hunting lodge, it was extended under successive counts, including Floris V. In the fourteenth century a settlement known as 's-Gravenhage (abbreviated to "Den Haag") grew up around the castle. Because of the court's presence, the settlement soon became a prosperous village and a modest centre of industry (textiles and beer brewing).

For over a century the city has been deeply involved in the evolution of a peaceful and prosperous world. The Peace Palace, established as a result of the First Hague Peace Conference in 1899, is presently the seat of the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The International Criminal Court is also established in The Hague.
The Hague has therefore justly been dubbed the judicial capital of the world.

Environmental situation/problems

Due to the dense population, traffic flows in and off peak hours are considerable.

The background concentrations of particulate matter (PM10) are high (influence of large-scale industry in the Rijnmond area). The Hague has no major industry of its own. Management of transport related emissions are therefore a key factor in achieving compliance with the EU directives.
Benzene, lead and carbon monoxide are not a problem.

Institutional context

The main local actors where air quality is concerned are:

  • Department of City Management: the Division for Environment and Permits drafts the Air Quality Management Plan, gives advice relating to air quality and spatial planning, promotes awareness of air quality issues.
  • Department of Urban Development: the Traffic Unit provides traffic data and plays a major role in resolving the air quality issues (development of split-level crossings for example).
  • The regional body Haaglanden: plays a role in the coordination of measures on a regional scale. It promotes transport management and is responsible for public transport schedules.

The main local actor where health is concerned is:

  • City Department for Health and Health Care (GGD): the organisation was involved in the Air Quality Management Plan.


RIVM (the national environment institute) operates 2 sites in the city that are used for the national continuous air quality monitoring network (soon 3 sites). One site is located in a street canyon that connects the commercial centre to the major access road of the city (extension of highway A12). The other is indicative for the background urban concentration. The Environmental Unit of the municipality of The Hague has recently launched a semi-permanent NO2-monitoring (diffusion tubes) program consisting of 26 locations across the city. Furthermore a mobile unit monitors 4 locations in a new (predominantly dwelling) area of the city.

Planned activities and expected results

Expected results are answering two central questions:

  • How do I inform my citizens in the best possible way about air quality?
  • What kind of measures can be introduced considering costs and effectiveness?


City of The Hague




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