“There are great opportunities in the Philippines for integrated coastal zone management, safe urban deltas and improving water quality,” says Daniël van Dijk of NWP on behalf of the Dutch Government's Partners for Water Programme. The water cooperation between the Philippines and the Netherlands is gaining strength and entered a strategic cooperation phase in 2017.
Moreover, Dutch organisations were clearly visible at the Water Philippines trade fair in Manila from 20 to 22 March 2019. The Dutch Embassy organised a well-attended seminar on waste water treatment at the fair. Daniël looks back at this event and highlights future developments. Read Daniël's blog.
“The Dutch water sector has been active and successful in the Philippines for many years now. For instance, at the request of the Philippine Government, since 2013 the Dutch Risk Reduction Team (DRR-Team) has carried out a number of missions. These have helped strengthen bilateral cooperation on water. The Dutch water sector’s involvement paved the way for the Philippines to become one of the focus countries of the Dutch Government’s Partners for Water Programme. The Programme’s focus for the Philippines is on strategic cooperation at a modest scale. In this context, NWP has established a network of Dutch organisations that are interested in the Philippines to connect and exchange knowledge. And at the end of 2018, a Philippines country platform meeting was held for the first time. The purpose of the platform is to inform interested Dutch water sector entities of developments, create an effective network and act as a sounding board. The Philippines country platform is led by NWP and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RvO.nl), as executors of the Partners for Water Programme.
Against this backdrop, the Water Philippines trade fair was a great business-to-business event. A select group of companies were part of our Holland Lounge. It was pretty busy and there was plenty of opportunity to get to know the different market segments better and to make new contacts. The participants were very satisfied with this first joint exhibition. Next to business meetings I had a series of meetings to strengthen bilateral cooperation at government level. And the seminar organised by the Dutch Embassy was fully booked with around 100 participants. We were very satisfied.
Dutch support through the Partners for Water Programme focuses on integrated coastal zone management, improving water quality and safe urban deltas.
For the coastal protection programme, we are working with the Philippines Reclamation Authority. The Authority has requested advice from the Dutch water sector on sustainable approaches as part of the coastal protection strategy. We are emphasising that it is not just a matter of hard infrastructure, but that nature has to be taken into account and local communities involved. Wetlands International and Partners for Resilience are involved in the coastal protection programme. Their expertise is very welcome, particularly in performing environmental impact assessments. There is much need for this, as devastating hurricanes in September made very clear.
In terms of water quality, in the Philippines VEI is particularly active in drinking water supply. Ironically, Manila had to contend with major drinking water shortages during World Water Day. The Manila drinking water company functions well in itself, but is struggling with capacity problems, the quality of the infrastructure and the organisational quality in the face of super fast population growth.
With regard to safe urban deltas, the Netherlands is involved in the strategic development of the master plan for Manila Bay. More than 25 million people live in this conurbation. The Dutch water sector can make a significant contribution in the field of sustainable urban development. In recent decades, the city has undergone unbridled growth, with huge consequences for the environment. Groundwater extraction is causing subsidence, the surface water is polluted, and drinking water quality is under pressure. Dutch experts, led by Deltares, are working on an assessment framework that will help Manila make better, more coherent and sustainable decisions.
The assessment framework starts at a somewhat abstract, strategic level, and then gradually moves towards implementation and practical solutions. As the development of the plan proceeds, the assessment framework team often invites Dutch specialists and companies to join in and help think through situations. This naturally gives them the opportunity to promote the Dutch water sector.
There are plenty of market opportunities. Investments are needed on a huge scale and first need to be used to create a coherent, integrated strategy. Equally, the three themes we focus on – integrated coastal zone management, improving water quality and safe urban deltas – are closely related and mutually reinforcing. NWP is particularly interested in the interconnections between these themes and is working on finding the specialisms that will complement and strengthen what the Dutch water sector can offer. The country platform is a great vehicle for this, as was the joint exhibition participation. We are going to continue our work in 2019. The master plan for Manila Bay will be finalised this year and will generate a sharper picture of opportunities for the Dutch water sector. In addition, we will focus on scaling up existing projects within the three themes. One good example is the drinking water supply for remote islands in the light of the salinisation of groundwater. In short, there is plenty to do!”
For more information about doing business in the Philippines, please contact Daniël van Dijk, firstname.lastname@example.org.