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Bianca Nijhof: No water, no green recovery

Bianca Nijhof
Thursday, 1 October 2020

Bianca Nijhof writes how the water sector and Green Recovery must come together. Because without water, there will be no Green Recovery at all.

Knowledge sharing to LATAM

Over the last few months, the Netherlands Water Partnership together with Dutch embassies organised a series of webinars in seven Latin American countries (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Panamá). 

Knowledge exchange, good practices, and joint solutions were vital components of these webinars. Addressing some of the most pressing water-related challenges in the region, these are also crucial for the Netherlands and other parts of the world.

The sessions zoomed in on topics such as circular economy, water quality, food security and water, watershed management and resilience, and water governance.

Why do I feel that I must share this?

We had more than 1400 people participate in these webinars, which showed the water topics has direct relevance to people’s current challenges. 

"It showed, once again, how water is not just crucial for our health and wellbeing, but it is an essential element to a sustainable, circular economy."

To me, it merely showed, once again, how water is not just crucial for our health and wellbeing, but that it is a key element to a sustainable, circular economy, to food security and to a resilient way of life. 

Secondly, the webinars showed how water interconnects with our global agenda to a sustainable future, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

In this case, the webinars directly addressed SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 13 (climate action) and aimed at giving insight in the tools, innovations and collaborations available for sustainably managing water resources related to the SDGs. 

Connecting with the Green Recovery 

In 2018, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, PBL, published ‘The Geography of Future Water Challenges’, a report which – in the literal sense of the word – mapped the relevance of water in almost all of today’s world issues. 

It also showed in a powerful way how water is interconnected with the Sustainable Development Goals. And not just the ones mentioned above, but all of them!


Now, two years later, there is much talk about the Green Recovery, and not only in the European Union. Plans are being made, and budgets are set aside for re-greening countries and continents. And rightly so. 

Yet, with the SDGs in mind, are those plans connecting sufficiently to the water sector? And are we connecting sufficiently to the policies, measures and budgets that are being realised as we speak? If not, then now is the time to do so! 

Every day our sector is developing some of the concrete and innovative solutions that are needed to make our world sustainable. Speaking for the Dutch Water Sector, I can only repeatedly emphasise the value of those solutions. 

Think of our (water-saving) technologies for production processes, our tools for forecasting water stress in agriculture, our solutions for monitoring water quality, our integrated approach to watershed management and our innovative water governance solutions. 

Identifying joint projects together

As the Netherlands Water Partnership, we are here to help our sector showcase to the world what we have on offer. And the other way around, we function as a gateway for governments, policymakers, businesses, and investors wishing to find their way to our sector and our solutions. 

The Latin American webinars have been an inspiring example of how, even in times of Covid-19, we can continue to find new ways of bringing experts together on relevant topics which will spark follow-up actions to identify joint projects. 

There will be many more opportunities for collaboration if we know how to find each other. And there will be new ways of sharing, connecting, and developing business.

Focus on the right business

"We all want to do business, but it is becoming clearer than ever that we need to focus on the right business."

In the end, we all want to do business. But it is becoming more apparent than ever, that we also need to focus on the right business: sustainable business.

To use the words of Feike Sijbesma, the former CEO of the global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living, DSM: “We cannot be successful nor call our company successful in a world that fails.”

Green Recovery ambitions give our sector new opportunities to connect to the right business. And also the other way around: a Green Recovery cannot do without us. Because without water, there will be no Green Recovery at all.

Bianca Nijhof

Bianca Nijhof

Netherlands Water Partnership

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