IOW Logo

Dutch royal couple visits the IOW

His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands are visiting the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) this afternoon as part of their working visit to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. They will be accompanied by Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig and a high-ranking Dutch-German delegation. The visit marks the festive conclusion of the Dutch-German colloquium "North Sea meets Baltic Sea" at the IOW with about 50 invited scientists. German and Dutch researchers will report to the royal couple on their cooperation on climate change, sea-level rise, coastal protection, pollutants and microplastics in the sea and sign a declaration of intent on future cooperation.
(Gallery photos: IOW /

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands are visiting the IOW this afternoon as part of their working visit to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. (Photo: RVD - Patrick van Katwijk)

“We are delighted that King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, with their interest in coastal marine research, are helping to raise public awareness for pressing environmental problems and support scientific and political work on solutions. We will work on these subjects in an international framework,” says IOW director Prof. Ulrich Bathmann on the occasion of the imminent royal visit to the institute.

During the royal couple’s visit at the IOW, Dutch-German scientific cooperation plays an important role: In the morning, around 50 researchers from 13 scientific institutions from both countries will meet for a five-hour symposium. The aim of the workshop under the motto “North Sea meets Baltic Sea” is to intensify joint research on the effects of climate change and other man-made influences on the two marine regions. In expert discussions and poster presentations by young scientists, strategies for joint research projects are to be developed that focus specifically on the coastal systems of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea and their different dynamics with and without tides. An improved understanding of these systems will allow more precise modelling of future developments; in addition, as part of joint research, perspectives will be developed on how marine and coastal problems induced by climate change and other human influences can be minimised through innovative and sustainable adaptation strategies.

To formally get future cooperation on these topics under way, a 12 research institutions, six from the Netherlands and six from Germany, have drawn up a letter of intent in advance to the workshop, which will be signed today in the presence of the royal couple representatively by four partners – the IOW, the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the project management organisation Jülich (PtJ). Based on the workshop results, concrete plans are to be laid down in a memorandum within six months.

During the visit of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima to the IOW, special emphasis is also placed on encounters with young people. The royal couple will have the opportunity to talk directly to some of the young scientists of the workshop about their research. The thematic focus here is on the further development of technologies for the investigating ecologically important ecosystems and organisms on the seafloor, the development of near-natural coastal protection strategies using artificially enlarged salt marshes and on new methods for the investigation of the alarming microplastic build-up in marine ecosystems. Plastic waste in the sea is also the topic of the last station of the royal couple at the IOW. Here, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will learn about the “Plastic School” project, in which the IOW, together with the OZEANEUM Stralsund, is providing schools throughout Germany with teaching materials on the subject of “Plastic in the Sea” and has been organising regular workshops for pupils and teachers for over two years. Six pupils aged 16 to 18 from Rostock and Hamburg will present the results of such a workshop to the royal couple and in particular explain the outcome of a beach waste collection they are currently carrying out on Warnemünde beach this morning. After the meeting with the pupils, IOW host Ulrich Bathmann will bid farewell to the royal couple and the delegation.

The Dutch royal couple regularly visits German federal states, paying particular attention to economic relations. But science and culture are also on the agenda. After the opening of the current trip to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the state capital of Schwerin with lunch in the castle and a visit to the state parliament, the IOW is the next major programme point on the agenda of the royal couple. Afterwards, a trade dinner in the Warnemünde Kurhaus will conclude the first day of the visit. On the following day, before traveling on to Brandenburg at noon, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will visit the Rostock site of the MV shipyards as a prominent example of the state’s maritime economy and the field stone barn Bollewick as an exemplary cultural project in the rural area. MV Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig and her husband Stefan Schwesig will accompany the royal couple during the entire working visit; the delegation visiting the IOW also includes the Dutch Minister for Infrastructure and Water Management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, and Birgit Hesse, MV Minister for Education, Science and Culture.