Full-service solutions through strategic collaboration, with the early involvement of financial experts and supported by a more coherent and easier to navigate set of financial instruments. This year, the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) and the NL Business department of the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank (FMO) want to put this formula into practice to strengthen the international positioning of the Dutch water sector.
As part of their strategic partnership, NWP and FMO published the sector consultation report ‘Expanding the horizon of the Dutch Water Sector’ in September 2019. After reviewing the international positioning of the Dutch water sector and its financing challenges, the study pointed out that the Dutch water sector could increase its market opportunities abroad by: 1) offering full-service integrated project solutions; 2) increasing collaboration with local partners; 3) structuring projects better through the early involvement of financial experts; and 4) creating a ‘one-stop shop’ for funding instruments.
Although the Dutch water sector largely acknowledged the findings of the study, it also has a general feeling of fatigue as these challenges were identified in the past and progress made in financing water (in terms of concrete successes) is slow. So how can we implement the recommendations of the consultation report? To set the wheel in motion, NWP and FMO have agreed to explore the option of joint implementation.
During a recent high-level dinner on the outcomes of the consultation report attended by around 30 stakeholders representing the Dutch Government and the water sector, NWP President and figurehead of the Topsector Water and Maritime, Annemieke Nijhof announced the aspiration to “start off a two-year programme with FMO in which, after a brief inventory of ‘direct opportunities’, we will work on connecting all the available options in the departmental support side. This would include the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Economic Affairs and Climate and Infrastructure and Water, as well as institutions such as the Water Envoy, Top Sector Water and Maritime, Waterworx, BlueDeal etc. For this to happen, we are considering creating a strong position which is mandated to develop an action plan to achieve at least two or three concrete activities in the coming years. Working with ‘direct opportunities’ would allow us, the Dutch water sector, to quickly inventory promising projects and thus better select where to put our combined energy.”