Water education institute IHE Delft starts new life at age 60
IHE Delft Institute for Water Education celebrated its 60th anniversary introducing a new rector, a new strategy and a new relation to the United Nations.
Interim rector Fritz Holzwarth of IHE Delft opened the celebration that took place in Delft, the Netherlands on 24 April. Holzwarth reflected on the anniversary and the impact of the institute’s 15,000 alumni working in the water sector around the globe.While celebrating its 60th anniversary, IHE Delft introduced its new rector Eddy Moors. He will start on 1 July.
“On this day we really want to look forward”, he said. “and discuss the role of the institute when it comes to innovation and to influence”.
Holzwarth mentioned the changing environment that awaits the graduated students when they return home and take a job in the water sector. The water issues get more complex and solutions demand an integrated approach, not just an engineering approach.
“We want to bring capacity building to a new level. It goes beyond the four years of education here in Delft”, he said. “Our drive should focus on a lifelong learning and changing mind sets.”
New relation to United Nations
The opening remarks relate to the new position of the IHE institute within the United Nations. It seeks to become more independed, to become a category 2 institute under the auspices of Unesco, rather than being part of Unesco as it has been for the past 14 years.
Other speakers at the celebration support Holzwarth’s suggestions to focus the education more on water management, including social impact, instead of engineering only.PhD fellow Shahnoor Hasan at IHE Delft questioned her career opportunities in a water sector that is domnated by male engineers.
Managers versus engineers
Ambassador of Bangladesh to the Netherlands, Sheikh Mohammed Belal, shared this vision and confirmed that Bangladesh needs more specialists with a holistic view on water issues.
One of such students is Shahnoor Hasan, a PhD fellow at IHE Delft. On stage at the celebration, she showed her concerns about her career in Bangladesh as a women and a non-technical skilled water engineer. “What are my opportunities”, she asked the ambassador.
The ambassador shared her concern and confirmed that the top of the water sector in Bangladesh is still dominated by male engineers.
Hasan also reflected on her study in the Netherlands. She emphasized the importance of learning how the Dutch water sector makes long-term plans for a river delta as a whole. “However it is a one way journey”, she said”. “The Dutch have all the knowledge and I am missing the context of Bangladesh”. She advocated to replicate the learning of a Delta planning process without the typical Dutch context.
Hasan suggested to start educating Dutch water managers in Bangladesh where they can use their knowledge in the context of the situation in Bangladesh.
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Full recording of the 60th anniversary celebation (5 hours) on 24 April in Delft, the Netherlands.