World leaders from over 200 countries come together for the 28th session of the annual UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP28) taking place in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December. In partnership with the COP28 Presidency, the Netherlands and Tajikistan serve as COP28 Water Champions and lead its Water Agenda.

The Government of the Netherlands will be present at the Conference with a delegation led by Prime Minister Rutte and represented at the European Investment Bank / BeNeLux Pavilion in the Blue Zone. In addition, the Dutch Embassy and Consulate General in Dubai as well as Dutch NGOs, knowledge institutions and private sector organisations will be holding several events showcasing Dutch climate-related solutions. The Netherlands also is a partner in the Water Pavilion, hosted by Stockholm International Institute.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the main decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Under the United Arab Emirates (UAE) presidency-designate of COP28, this year’s Conference aims to be a transformational moment for the world to unite around tangible climate action and solutions for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

In addition, the first-ever global stocktake of the Paris Agreement will conclude at COP28. As outlined in Article 14 of the Paris Agreement, the global stocktake is a systematic process ‘to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of this Agreement and its long-term goals.’ The outcome of the global stocktake will inform governments’ decisions regarding climate action plans.

Netherlands & COP28 Water Agenda

The COP28 UAE Presidency announced a partnership with the Netherlands and Tajikistan to serve as COP28 Water Champions during the past World Water Week in Stockholm. This partnership aims to build upon outcomes and momentum from the UN 2023 Water Conference held in March, which was co-hosted by the Netherlands and Tajikistan, and resulted in the Water Action Agenda

René van Hell, Ambassador for Sustainable Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of the Netherlands, stated, "We need collective action on water and climate now. As co-host of the UN 2023 Water Conference, we firmly believe that the Water Action Agenda commitments, the pathways of change of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, and other initiatives are the backbone for the realisation of our goals. Our cooperation will support that, from New York to Dubai, and from Dubai to the world. Tangible outcomes on water and climate at COP28 are essential. There's no time to waste. We have to act, all together, from public to private sector leaders. And we will."

Support from the Netherlands and Tajikistan is essential to ensuring progress and commitments from the UN Water Conference are driven forward. This partnership unites the COP28 Presidency, Tajikistan, and the Netherlands to deliver water policy, technology, and financing results at COP28.

The Water Agenda of the COP28 identifies the following priority areas:

  • conserving and restoring freshwater ecosystems;
  • enhancing urban water resilience; and,
  • bolstering water-resilient food systems.

Dutch presence at COP28

As at COP26 and COP27, the Netherlands is committed to placing water at the heart of climate action at COP28 and will contribute to the Food, Agriculture and Water Day theme day. COP28 is an essential milestone for the Netherlands to influence the global climate community to accelerate and scale up actions and financing towards water-related Sustainable Development Goals, including number 6 on “clean water and sanitation for all.” 

Prime Minister Mark Rutte will be present at the official opening of the World Climate Action Summit where he will deliver the national speech. Besides its Prime Minister, the Netherlands is sending a governmental delegation consisting of several ministers, the Special Climate Envoy Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, and the Special Water Envoy Meike van Ginneken.

Amongst the events with a key contribution from the Government of the Netherlands are:

  • Water Presidency Session: World Climate Action Summit | 2 December | Presidency Roundtable | Link

Recognising that climate change is having an undue toll on our water resources and services, and that managing water security is central to climate adaptation and mitigation solutions, this event aims to elevate water up the political agenda and to place a high-level focus on building resilient water systems as a critical lever for climate action. Representing the first high-level event after the landmark UN 2023 Water Conference, this session will convene Heads of State, multilateral development bank (MDB) Presidents and other senior officials to follow up on the Conference with concrete commitments, particularly to enable innovation across the water value chain and bridge the water finance gap. 

  • Promoting the declaration of 2028 as “Year of Saline Agriculture”: Climate resilient agriculture for sustainable production systems and healthy ecosystems in salt-affected areas | 10 December | Food Systems Pavilion | Link

A panel discussion that will bring together professionals and experts representing prominent organisations from Europe, South America, the Middle East, Far East and West-North Africa, who will showcase work on saline agriculture and its potential. Dutch Water Envoy Meike van Ginneken moderates the session and Minister Christianne Van der Wal of Nature and Nitrogen Policy contributes to it as a panellist. This session is particularly relevant in the context of COP28, since climate change can severely aggravate salinisation due to prolonged droughts.

In addition, the Dutch Embassy and Consulate General in Dubai as well as Dutch organisations from the private sector, knowledge institutes and NGOs are also joining the Conference and contributing to its programme with several events.

COP28's two-week thematic programme dedicates Sunday 10 December to exploring climate action across food, agriculture, and water. An overview of the Conference’s overall thematic programme can be found here.

EIB/BeNeLux Pavilion

In collaboration with the European Investment Bank (EIB), Luxembourg and Belgium, the Netherlands participates in the BeNeLux Pavilion with events focused on Dutch policy priorities as set out in ‘the Netherlands’ Global Climate Strategy,’ which includes: water, agriculture and food security, energy transition, health, and circular economy, amongst others. 

The BeNeLux Pavilion is in the Blue Zone – the formal conference and negotiation space managed by UN Climate Change and reserved for UNFCCC-accredited participants. To engage the wider public, all the events taking place at the Pavilion will be livestreamed.
An overview of the pavilion's agenda, confirmed speakers, and specific links for the events’ live streaming, can be found here.

Water for Climate Pavilion

The Netherlands is also supporting the Water for Climate Pavilion, a collaborative effort of more than 60 partners from Governments, international and intergovernmental institutions, NGOs, and the private sector sharing the commitment to science-based policies that place water as a tool to accelerate climate action.

The Pavilion, hosted by Stockholm International Institute, is also located in the Blue Zone and offers a knowledge hub where to explore the challenges and opportunities associated with water management, and a substantial capacity building agenda around key water and climate related topics. For a higher dissemination, and to facilitate international collaboration on water related issues, all the activities will be live streamed on YouTube.