dws-wwf7-help-panel-770pxSmall floods or short periods of droughts are not the issue but large water-related disasters should be prevented. It avoids much misery and with good governance it is cheaper. That was the main message of the Dutch delegation at the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu, Korea.

Dutch minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen advocated this during a meeting of the High-level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP) that coincided with the forum and strategic advisor Koos Wieriks (top photo right) delivered the same message during a high-level panel on water and disaster.

The Dutch pavilion was fully devoted to this theme. The ceiling of the pavilion was made out of umbrellas.

dws-wwf7-help-bostick-seung-soo-350px   Lt. General Thomas Bostick of US Army Corps of Engineers (left) hands over the special edition of IWA's Water Policy to Special UN envoy Han Seung-soo (right).

High level panel meeting
The High-level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP) of the United Nations held its annual meeting during the World Water Forum. Dutch minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen attended this meeting as vice-chairman of the panel.

The meeting resulted in a new position paper with seven messages on risk reduction, preparation and prevention. According to minister Schultz investments in risk reduction and prevention pay off.

One of the messages in the position paper gives a more detailed understanding and claims that sensible investments in preparation and prevention leads to less loss of life, avoids damage and creates economic growth and stability.

Special session on water & disaster
Members of the HELP panel also joined a special session on water & disasters on 14 April. On behalf of minister Schultz, senior advisor Koos Wieriks participated in this session.

Special UN envoy on disaster and water, and former president of South Korea, Han Seung-soo opened the session. Followed by a video message from Japanese crown prince Naruhit.

Seung-soo praised the support of the Japanese crown prince and reminded of the former support by another prince, Dutch prince Willem-Alexander, now King of the Netherlands.

dws-wwf7-help-abdullah-narbo-350pxDr. Keizrul bin Abdullah (left) of the Network of Asian River Basin Organizations predicts more floods because of more urbanization. Senior advisor Koos Wieriks (right) warned for a deadlock: no development, no risk reduction, no risk reduction, no development..

More urbanization, more run off
Chair Dr. Keizrul bin Abdullah of the Network of Asian River Basin Organizations (NARBO) talked about the worldwide impact of the Bangkok flood in 2011. "More damage can be expected", predicted Bin Abdullah, "as more urbanisation will lead to more run off."

On the positive side, he noticed there is more information available on the risk of flooding and society is stronger. He advised to pay special attention to non-structural measures and specifically mentioned the improvement of meteorological services.

Finance follows strategy
"First there is a strategy and then the money", Lt. General Thomas Bostick, Chief of the US Army Corps of Engineers said. "You first have to determine how much risk you are willing to take. Only then, one can start developing plans to make communities more resilient."

Bostick suggested to work out a more precise definition of resilience. This needs to be better defined for all four phases of disaster risk reduction: planning, absorption of impact, respond to impact and finally the adaptation after the impact. During the session a special edition of the Water Policy Journal on 'Water and disasters' was presented. The special edition is published by the International Water Association and provides 10 case studies on water-related risk reduction.

The Dutch contribution is by Koos Wieriks and Niels Vlaanderen who wrote an article on shifting disaster management from reaction to prevention.

All articles can be downloaded from IWA publishing online.

Read also on this website
● WWF7: Buzzing Dutch delegation very active at World Water Forum in Korea, 21 April 2015
● WWF7: Time for long term action plans as rare weather events become regular, 20 April 2015
● WWF7: Icomos recommends water heritage as inspiration for today's water management, 19 April 2015
● WWF7: Akvo Flow hits one million mark for field surveys, 18 April 2015
● WWF7: Global monitoring water quality: top down or bottom up?, 15 April 2015
● WWF7: Dutch minister Schultz urges for consistent water policies to bring in the private sector, 15 April 2015
● WWF7: K-Water and Deltares sign MoU on joint projects on integrated water management, 14 April 2015
● WWF7: Korea and Netherlands take occasion of world forum to intensify cooperation, 13 April 2015
● WWF7: OECD launches 12 principles to achieve more stable water policies, 13 April 2015
● WWF7: Strong Dutch delegation joins World Water Forum with positive message: Be prepared, 9 April 2015
● Special website on Dutch participation at WWF7: www.wwf7.dutchwatersector.com

More information

High-level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP)

Full recording of the high level panel session on water & disaster (2 hours).