Outlook 2016 - Wanted: global water action plans that can deliver
(editorial) Bring on 2016. A new year lies ahead with new opportunities and challenges. What will it bring? Hopefully much happiness and health to you personally.
At the start of each new year, there is always this hard question to be answered on what can be predicted for 2016?
For the global water community this has undoubtedly to do with the UN's sustainable development goal nr.6 on water that has now come into force.
This global water goal sets clear targets for 2030 such as universal access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation, but also on water efficiency, water treatment, water governance and risk reduction.
The global water community has long desired for this great stand-alone goal for water. Now it is in place, there is a huge challenge to achieve it. It is quite clear that 2016 calls for global water action plans. Action plans that can deliver.
Smart action plans that address the complexity of water issues. Plans that raise water productivity in other sectors such as agriculture, industry and energy. That reduce water pollution not only by treatment also by using other materials and substances. That combine flood prevention with conservation for dry periods.
For the Netherlands the new year started with an international flavor. The coming six month it holds the presidency of the European union, meaning it will chair countless meetings in Brussels and Amsterdam.
Underlining this presidency are four major water-related events. In February there is a major conference on water technology at the WaterCampus in Leeuwarden, in April Amsterdam will host a major exhibition of innovative solutions and in May a high-level conference will take place on climate adaptation in Rotterdam and a start-up event in Leeuwarden.
You are all invited to join these landmark events (see our agenda).
Flexible adaptation strategies
Predicting 2016 is not easy, let alone the long term profound effects of climate change on flood prevention, water supply and water allocation. Uncertainties dominate the discussions on the best way forward.
Therefore on the international stage, the Dutch water sector will continue to advocate for adaptive strategies. What do you want to achieve in say 20, 50, 100 years, and take small steps in that direction, meanwhile you can accelerate or decelerate depending the actual change of the climate.
This strategy has made the concept of Building with nature so immense popular in the Netherlands. Give room to wind, tides, sedimentation, rain, vegetation and ecology. Give them only an engineered helping hand when necessary to achieve more flood protection or water security.
Sustainable WASH services
Another major global issue for the Dutch water sector is sustainable water and sanitation services, both financial sound and proper management of the water source.
Too many well-intended water pumps have broken down and left unused, too many water resources are overexploited and are falling dry, and too many toilets are left abandonment as nobody keeps them clean.
Let's accelerate WASH, is another international effort by the Dutch water sector that will be continued in 2016. This effort focusses on creating a demand for water and sanitation and supporting local entrepreneurs to meet this demand by starting for instance a water kiosk or a service to empty pit latrines.
Biobased and circular economy
Contrary to the old UN millennium development goals, the new 2030 global goals challenges the industrialized world to convert to a new more biobased and circular economy.
With 2 billion more mouth to feed and 3 billion more middle income consumers to satisfy, it is impossible to continue the classic linear production processes and supply chains.
In 2016 the Dutch water sector will internalize the recently adopted European Union policy on a more circular economy. Undoubtedly this will lead to the development of more new innovative water technologies, like producing bioplastic from sewage sludge.
Sewage mining is the new buzz word at the many water technology centres in the Netherlands.
Roll up the sleeves
Once again, we have to roll up our sleeves, said Dutch king Willem-Alexander in New York in November last year, marking the ending of the UN's millennium development goals and the start of the new 2030 global goals.
The Dutch water sector is aware of this. It realizes that water does not stop at borders and invites everybody to team up in 2016 for the development of long term solutions.
Global water challenges… joint solutions. Let’s work together!
Netherlands Water Partnership
The Hague, the Netherlands
+31 70 304 3700