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Leiden University signs Southwest Pact in The Hague

On average, the residents of The Hague Southwest (Zuidwest) are poorer, have more health problems and a lower level of education than the residents of other districts in The Hague. With the Southwest Pact, the municipality, the state, residents, entrepreneurs and professional parties are joining forces to redevelop Southwest over the next 20 years. Leiden University is a signatory of the Pact.

Life expectancy in Moerwijk is seven years shorter on average than in other districts in The Hague. A quarter of the population of Southwest lives in poverty and the average income there is 8,000 euros less than in other districts in The Hague. Around 45% of toddlers in The Hague Southwest are at risk of a learning delay, the unemployment rate there is high and the residents only give a mark of 4.8 to the social cohesion in their neighbourhood. 

Twenty-year effort

‘Southwest urgently needs money, care and attention, so that all its residents have the same opportunities as elsewhere in The Hague,’ said Martijn Balster, Alderman for Housing, Neighbourhoods and Social Work in the Municipality of The Hague. Over 100 parties signed the ‘Southwest Pact’ on 8 July and have committed to improving Southwest over the next 20 years. ‘In signing the “Southwest Pact” the parties have agreed to stick together until Southwest is on the up again,’ said Balster.

Active residents

Central to the approach are countless local residents and volunteers who give up their time to help others and the community. The six alliances within the Pact will actively involve them in their plans. During the signing ceremony, Mayor Jan van Zanen presented five Southwest residents with a Southwest pin to show his appreciation for the work they have done for the neighbourhood.

Two people stand in front of a poster-size copy of the Southwest Pact, during the signing ceremony.
The Southwest Pact was signed by over 100 partners during a celebration in The Hague Southwest.

Health, vitality and education

Leiden University will contribute to the Southwest Pact in various ways. Jet Bussemaker (Professor of Science, Policy and Societal Impact, in particular in Health Care) will lead the alliance of partners that will focus on health and vitality. The university is also contributing to the Education Alliance. Our ICLON teaching institute has worked on the Education Alliance’s plan and is helping to come up with ideas on how to make it easier for children to come into contact with higher education from an earlier age. Staff from Campus The Hague are working on a plan to support toddlers with language delays, and the Students for Education project is helping different primary schools reduce delays caused by Covid.

University contribution to the city

Erwin Muller, Chair of Campus The Hague: ‘As Leiden University we are not only situated in The Hague but also want to contribute to the city and be of significance to the residents. In Southwest we can make a difference to the residents with our knowledge and expertise, in public health, urban problems and education, for instance. I am proud that we have committed to this district for the next 20 years.’

Fifteen mayors recently called on the House of Representatives and the people charged with forming a new government to invest in vulnerable districts, including The Hague Southwest therefore. In the letter Mayor Jan van Zanen and his colleagues call for extra resources and opportunities to bridge the gap with the rest of the city, among others a National Southwest Programme and more options for experimenting with policies and regulations. 

More information about the Southwest Pact can be found on the special Southwest website: Zuidwest op z'n best (in Dutch). The press release about the pact being signed on 8 July (in Dutch)  can be found on the website of the municipality of The Hague, along with a full vision that the partners have committed to.

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