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Gelderland, is the largest province in the Netherlands (4,975 km˛ ). It is situated in the eastern part of the country and shares a common border with Germany. It has a population of 1,970,865 , and a density of 393/km˛ . In terms of geography the region varied greatly from one area to another.

The easternmost part of the province - the Achterhoek - is characterised by small villages, meadows and woodland. Much of the northern part of the province is covered by the 'Hoge Veluwe' nature reserve. The central part of the province is dominated by two great rivers, the Rhine and the Waal, which flow from east to west. The province's two main cities, Arnhem, the provincial capital, and Nijmegen, are located on these rivers. The cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen together comprise central Gelderland, the Netherland's largest conurbation after the Randstad.

There has been steady growth in Gelderland's population over the last 10 years (+ 5.6 %) due to a natural increase and a high level of immigration. The birth rate (12.8 in 1999) is very close to the national average, as well as the infant mortality rate (5.3 in 1999). Demographers expect the province's population to grow by 10 000 a year in the next few years. It is forecast that the population will stabilize at about 1.9 million in the year 2010. The majority of the province's non-Dutch nationals, who account for somewhat more than 2% of the total population, live in Arnhem and Nijmegen.

The Region has a very good transport service. The province is crossed by a number of good motorways and international rail links. The river Waal is a busy transport artery between the port of Rotterdam and the Ruhr.

The Dutch have demonstrated strong and sustained commitment to integrated transport and land use policies in order to reduce use of the private car and maximise take-up of public transport and cycling. Many early achievements, such as investment in cycle networks, the development of an extensive rail system and efficient interchanges, have served as a model for others to follow. However, as with many other countries, the Netherlands has experienced increasing car ownership and use and pressure from transport on network congestion, the environment and social exclusion.

Dutch national transport policy centres on the key objectives of enhancing accessibility and quality of life through co-operation between Central, Provincial and Regional Government. A key priority is to counter the negative effects the unrestrained growth in car use has on society, the economy and the environment through enhancing the quality and attractiveness of alternative modes and public transport in particular.

In parallel with this, since 1998 the central Government has increasingly decentralised its responsibilities for public transport and other transport planning matters to lower tiers of government. The 12 Dutch Provinces and 23 regional administrations now play an enhanced role in the planning and financing of regional public transport, investment in highway, cycling and walking infrastructure, parking policy and the link between land use planning and transport. This gives the Gelderland Provincial Administration substantial influence over rural transport planning and practice.

In addition to decentralisation of decision-making, liberalisation represents a second driving principle of current Dutch transport policy. Government has sought to introduce market dynamics into the public transport sector as a means of improving quality, efficiency and financial self-sufficiency. This entails further decentralisation of public transport authority to the Provinces/Regions, the introduction of competition in public transport provision and the privatisation of public transport organisations. This is now well underway and commercial organisations are invited to submit competitive tenders to Principal/Regional Administrations in place of the monopoly of formerly publicly-owned state companies.

Gelderland boasts a wide range of economic activities. Apeldoorn, Arnhem and Nijmegen, which lie in close proximity to each other, are the province's urban nerve centre. Arnhem and Nijmegen together provide a focal point for the region and beyond. Most of the multinational companies which operate in the province have their establishments in one of these two cities.

Smaller centres of economic activity are spread throughout the province: intensive livestock breeding (particularly poultry) and the paper industry are dominant in the Veluwe; the Achterhoek is home to a variety of agricultural holdings, agri-businesses and major metal-processing companies; the Rivierenland is a centre of fruit-growing and transport and distribution companies. Of the major cities, the emphasis in Arnhem and Apeldoorn is on the services sector, while Nijmegen, with its university and high-tech industries, is the province's centre of learning.

SMEs (less than 10 people) dominate industry in the province, and only a small number employ more than 100 people. Manufacturing and services have both made good progress in Gelderland. Commerce, transport, communications and other business services are very important. In general the region is a very dynamic area. The regional GDP in PPS is 43,519 (in Million euros), and the per capita GDP is (in K euros) 22 265.

The growth of the working population in recent years is largely the result of the increased activity rate of women, which has seen a much higher increase than the corresponding rate for men. The activity rate is slightly above the Netherlands as a whole.

The regional employment rate is 62.40%; the female employment rate is 54%,, whereas the male employment rate is 71% of all males. Current unemployment rate is 4,30% (the female one is 4,5). The number of persons employed in the agricultural sector is 3.10% of the workforce, those who work in the industrial sector are 21,9%, and those who work in the service sector are 75%.

In common with what is happening elsewhere in the Netherlands, the share of employment accounted for by the primary sector is steadily declining while that of industry and the services sector (especially distribution, transport and communications) is increasing.

The region was classified as EU Objective 2 (only one part), for the period 2000-2006.
Total amount of Government investments (% of GDP) in R&D is 0.50%. The total amount of University investments (% of GDP) in R&D is 0.71%.
Between the period 2003-2004 the region of Gelderland ran a RPIA named 'A Driving Wheel to Sustainability' with total ERDF funding of Euro 2.99 million, a further Euro 2.51 million in further investment from the public sector and Euro 0.48 million from the private sector creating total resources of Euro 5.98 million.

The programme experimented with ways of developing and implementing sustainable approaches to entrepreneurship and regional development. The aim was to achieve a significant step forward in thinking and acting for sustainability in an integrated way among citizens, companies, public authorities and other organisations in Gelderland, and to foster the transfer of knowledge needed for sustainable entrepreneurship. The programme included specific actions targeted at companies, citizens, policy makers, and knowledge institutions. The programme was not intended as a “one-off”, but as a driving wheel to start and fuel a process in the region to promote sustainable development. Three main lines of action were implemented:

  • 1. Learning for sustainability:
    · To increase awareness among citizens of the importance of sustainable actions and to teach them how to act for sustainability in daily life (“learning for sustainability”);

    · To increase awareness among local and regional authorities of the importance of policies aimed at sustainability and to provide them with tools and insights to make their policies more geared towards developing a sustainable region.

  • 2. Sustainable entrepreneurship:
    · To make the Gelderland SMEs aware of the business opportunities that await them when they incorporate the principles of sustainable entrepreneurship into their strategy and processes;
    · To provide them with the proper tools to become a sustainable entrepreneur;
    · To increase the number of sustainable SMEs in the Gelderland region.

  • 3. Thematic knowledge intensive clustering:
    · To stimulate knowledge development and knowledge transfer to SMEs through knowledge intensive clustering which will allow SMEs;
    · To integrate sustainability in their strategies (strategic innovation);
    · To develop new products or processes which contribute to a sustainable society (product innovation).