MANHATTAN, N.Y. — Henry Hudson 400 was originally created in 2006 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's legendary voyage for the Dutch to the Hudson River and New York.

Following a successful chain of events in 2009, the Dutch Henry Hudson 400 Foundation changed its name to Henry Hudson 500. The Foundation will continue to organize events, projects and publications that promote key values of the 17th century Dutch Republic, (New) Amsterdam and New York’s trade, freedom, tolerance and diversity. Highpoint of this current year will be the 2nd edition of water conference H209 Forum, which is scheduled for September 9 and 10 in Manhattan.

A number of interesting programs took place in 2009 in New York (and selectively in Amsterdam). Both cities were involved with a weeklong job program in which workers in New York City and Amsterdam traded places for a week. There was also an exhibit of rare maps and documents at the South Street Seaport Museum. And a fleet of distinctive Dutch flat bottom boats visited New York City. There was also a walking tour of 17th century New York that enabled participants to trace the development of New Amsterdam. The tour commemorated the legendary journey of Henry Hudson to New York 400 hundred years ago. And it is believed that the unique character that continues to embrace New York (originally known as New Amsterdam) was shaped by the legacy of the multiethnic, entrepreneurial and tolerant culture of 17th century Amsterdam. 

And most importantly to the water infrastructure community, the Henry Hudson 400 Foundation produced an interesting conference program known as the H209 Water Forum, which was held in early September 2009. The multi-day program sought to explore the water challenges facing the 21st century – 400 years after Henry Hudson arrived in New York harbor and began to discover the majesty of the Hudson River. The program was a success — attended by the then Prince of Orange and his wife (now King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands).

It is now 2013, four years later. The Henry Hudson 500 Foundation has elected to pull together another water conference in New York City. H209 Forum (2013) will specifically seek to address water challenges for coastal cities – from the Dutch Delta to the New York Harbor. Aimed at innovative and sustainable development, the upcoming H209 Forum will seek to focus on identifying/discussing practical solutions to better address the ongoing and future water challenges. While the focus of the upcoming Forum will be on the New York/New Jersey metropolitan region and the Dutch Delta, the conclusions that are ultimately generated from the Forum should be able to benefit coastal cities worldwide.

The 2013 conference is being produced in partnership with the Regional Plan Association, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, and the Netherlands Water Partnership. The honorary chairs of the conference (and serving as the opening speakers) are the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment Melanie Schultz van Haegen and the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan.

The 2 day H209 Forum will take place in downtown Manhattan on September 9-10. While the first day of the Forum will comprise of a number of high profile keynote speakers (including Zack Smith, executive board of Arcadis and Carter Strickland, the Commissioner of NYC’s DEP), the second day will consist of shirt sleeve sessions in various locations (both in New York and New Jersey) that focus on very specific topics of interest. Topics to be addressed in the shirt sleeve sessions are: New generation of urban and landscape planning, new methods to protect vital infrastructure, innovative water technology, building climate resilient communities, the benefits of an integrated approach for coastal adaption in New York and New Jersey, etc.

It should be noted that the overall three sub-themes of the upcoming H209 Forum are: How to keep New York, New Jersey and the Netherlands safe and resilient; the economics and governance of water; and innovative water technology.

Gert Tetteroo, Henry Hudson 500’s executive director: “Our goal is to explore a subjectMayor Bloomberg calls, ‘A defining challenge of our future.’ The challenge to make our coastal regions safe and resilient affects countries on both sides of the Atlantic. Delegates can expect to hear some of the best and the brightest American and Dutch water-minds, on a lively and hands-on conference.”

To learn more about the upcoming H209 Forum and to register, visit www.H209forum.org.