Looking beyond water
When I joined NWP this year, I stepped into the Dutch water world. A world that has a long, solid reputation. It is a changing world, given the impact of water on climate change, rapid urbanisation, soil depletion and so on. NWP and the Dutch water sector are responding by looking beyond the water management and technology that the Netherlands is known for. This is a challenge, but one which NWP is embracing.
Today’s water challenges need us to move away from specialisation and towards a greater integration of approaches to water management, mitigation and adaptation. This means looking beyond the traditional ‘too much, too little, too polluted water’ at aspects such as agriculture, urbanisation and sustainability. Fortunately, large multilaterals such as the United Nations (UN) are also moving in this direction, as shown by the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015.
“NWP is constantly building its network and since taking office,
I have been thinking about how we can break into new markets. Given that many industries are water dependent, we should attend their events too.”
Water touches all the SDGs. At the Dutch Government’s request, NWP is taking the lead in coordinating SDG 6 in the country. In turn, we are looking at how the Dutch water sector can support other countries reach their SDG 6 goals.
To this end, NWP is linking cutting edge Dutch technology, often in the hands of small enterprises, to large companies and/or countries. This encapsulates the role of NWP – to share, connect, involve; and to facilitate the deployment of Dutch water knowledge where and when it’s needed, sustainably and with a long-term positive societal impact.
That we need to adopt a more integrated approach is evident in two areas in particular. One is urbanisation. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be urban dwellers, leaving rural areas virtually empty. This has major implications for direct water availability and use in both rural and urban areas, and water in food, transport and effluents. Furthermore, urban areas will have to be protected from weather extremes. To support this, NWP boosts cooperation by setting up different national and international platforms such as a City Leaders Forum with worldwide reach, but also a NGO Platform for NWP members in the NGO sector. Both of which will become increasingly important over time. The second area is the uneven distribution of water with some places facing deluge while others face drought. Given their hefty water footprint, we need to be more sustainable in our agriculture and our food and consumer goods production.
Sustainability underpinned the 2018 Amsterdam International Water Week Summit and will underpin the 2019 event in November. The 2019 AIWW Conference will focus on integrated solutions by cities, industries, utilities and financiers: from cases to bankable projects. NWP is constantly building its network and since taking office, I have been thinking about how we can break into new markets. Given that many industries are water dependent, we should attend their events too. We are one of many at water events, but we will stand out at corporate events.
But first, I will continue talking to NWP members and listening to how we can support them. I want to hear their experiences in and ideas on framing global issues in a wide perspective that goes beyond ‘only’ water without losing sight of water being our essence.
Managing Director NWP