Qualifications & Background

Relevant qualifications of it’s founder

In 2006 MSc Marnix de Vriend (1960), single, father of 3 sons founded Aquae (Aqua Excursions). He had been a musician (horn, organ and piano), singer and fanatic dancer all of his life. As a teenager from the age of 14 he performed as a dancer in Germany, Poland, France, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Turkey, France, Belgium and Ukraine. He helped organising the international folkdance festival of Heyen, the Netherlands for five times between his 18th and his 25th. He was president for the international Folkdance group & orchestra Iduna in Heyen from approximately 1988 till 1993.

He has studied Biology/ Ecology and Environmental Law in Nijmegen, The Netherlands and Alexandria, Egypt and shortened Middle Management at the Technical University in Enschede, The Netherlands. He speaks, reads/writes and understands Dutch, English, French, Spanish, German and (basic) Arabic. Marnix now has nearly three decades of professional experience in climate adaptation and water management consultancy. His professional experiences of special significance for Aquae were:

• Coordinator of Delta-platform of Ngo’s on Nature. Landscape and Environment in Goes (1985-1986);
• Public officer for the protection (national and trilateral) of the Waddensea Area (-‘88), Head of the ministerial Advisory Committee on Mussel Culture (ADMOS) and Head of the department on Coastal Fisheries (‘88-‘92);
• Water management/ climate change consultant at Arcadis Arnhem (- 1998) and Royal Haskoning (Nijmegen (‘98-2012);
• From 2005 onwards Marnix was the acting president of Bifae and (as from 2012) Bifae Education, a non-profit organisation for community development in northwest Cameroon. In 2012 Bifae established a business case at the village of Kingomen: the first mixed integrated organic farm in the region. It was handed over to the Cameroonian CIG BIFAG. Bifae Education provides scholarships and contributed to the development of both infrastructure (water, benches, classrooms) and education (books) in the primary schools of Kingomen, Tabah and Shisong with > 1000 pupils. Since 2006 Marnix spends his November months in Cameroon. In February 2014 he was granted the honorary royal title of Shey by the 14th century Nso Kingdom of NW Cameroon (www.bifaeeducation.nl under (re)construction).

In March 2012 he founded his own business Aqua-δ Consult BV with offices in Groesbeek (at Wylerbaan 28B, close to Nijmegen) & London (in Baca’s office at 100 Long Lane, Southwark) for global water management and climate adaptation consultancy. Sofar Aqua-δ consult BV has been granted assignments in The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, United Kingdom and Bangladesh (www.aqua-deltamarnix.com).

Origin of Aquae: the relevance of Arts for Science and vice versa

In the years after the completion of his Royal Haskoning project “Water Werkt in Beek and Ubbergen” (the most prominent project on natural SUD’s in The Netherlands, 1999-2002) he started understanding his own qualifications as an organizing guide as well as a host. Most of these excursions were for Dutch people. However there was a lot of global attention for the Beek project too. Subsequently between 2000 and approximately 2007 he hosted more than a dozen international groups in Beek en Ubbergen. They were coming from Bulgaria, Rumania, Germany, India, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom, Botswana, South-Africa and Vietnam. Being familiar with arts and Science during these excursions Marnix started to experiment mixing arts & science. He actually involved singers, actors, poets and painters in the various events he organized. Certainly in those days this was no common practice. He experienced that these additions proved very valuable indeed. Not only did the artists improve the general atmosphere but they also managed to open up people’s minds. In fact some of them started to use more than just half of their brain. In consultancy it is still paramount to think only in a scientific way, thus denying the common origin of both arts and science.

The UK connection

In 2005 the CIWEM (UK Chartered Institute for Water and Environmental Managers than chaired by David Ramsbottom, director of HR Wallingford) during their annual excursion decided to visit the Netherlands for a whole week. They specifically were interested in the water project in Beek. Marnix was there host and guide through the water miracles of Holland. They were so impressed not only by his work but also by the organization of the event that they decided to do two things. Firstly the Environment Agency assigned him (2006 – 2009) in London to the Thames Estuary 2100 project. He was a team member for some years. He further developed and applied successfully his methodology of Opportunity Mapping (first applied in the Arnhem/ Nijmegen region in 2004 and first published during the Defra conference in York in 2006). Secondly they urged him to further develop his professional abilities as a guide / host/ organizer and commercialise it. This is exactly what he did and in 2008 he founded Aquae (Aqua excursions) in The Netherlands and the UK.