Building back better for a blue and green future

Update

September 22, 2020

Social

Building back better for a blue and green future

Update

September 22, 2020

Social

The Netherlands is the official partner of the world’s largest conference on water issues: World Water Week. The annual conference, organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), covers many different aspects of water management. Every year, it brings experts from all over the world together and seeks to find solutions to pressing issues of too much, too little and too polluted water. At this year's conference, Dutch water envoy Henk Ovink warns we cannot continue making the same mistakes.

The physical edition could not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic. To bridge the gap, the conference is being held online under the title World Water Week at home from 24 - 28 August. In virtual sessions, renowned experts in the field of water and climate change will deliver their topics originally programmed for the live conference. The Government of the Netherlands will convene and co-convene digital sessions on issues such as valuing water, climate adaptation, financing and the effect of COVID-19. The Netherlands will also host a networking event at the end of the conference.

Creating an inclusive blueprint

On Thursday 27 August Henk Ovink will talk on the Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities. This project combines the expertise of water specialists with local knowledge in an inclusive process to tackle rising water levels, flooding and drought in three Asian cities. The projects will result in scalable, bankable programmes which can be used as a blueprint for cities across the world.

As a low-lying, flood-prone nation, the Netherlands has learnt over the centuries how to combat the threat of flooding and has thrived by reclaiming land and building dikes. In recent years, the country has changed its tactics on water management introducing new strategies through its Building with Nature, Room for the River and Water as Leverage programmes. Instead of fighting the threats posed by water, the Dutch have learnt how to harness its power as part of the solution.

Blue and green opportunities

Water is at the heart of the wellbeing of communities and COVID-19 has highlighted the need for universal access to clean water and sanitary conditions. At the same time, urban areas everywhere face the threat of rising sea levels and flooding. Climate change is a major factor driving these threats. That is why water management and resilience are paramount to resolving the climate crisis. Now in the midst of the COVID crisis, the world has to build back better as it prepares for economic recovery.

Ovink warns that we have to change the way we do things to avert danger: “If we continue replicating the past, we’ll end up more vulnerable, more unequal and more fragile than before. Together we must take a step forward and invest in water capacity, management and infrastructure to build a robust pipeline of sustainable and transformative blue and green opportunities. It pays off to deliver on our promise of the SDGs and Climate Action!”

According to Ovink the solutions lie in taking climate action and embracing the Sustainable Development Goals. In his blog Delivering on our Promise, he explains how this would give rise to a blue and green pipeline of opportunities.

By prioritising water, various climate and economic challenges can be resolved. In doing so, public health, a sustainable economy and safe environment needs to be created in which no-one is left behind.

Don’t miss the SIWI World Water Week at home.