The New York Water Week and the United Nations Water Conference 2023 are behind us. What a week it was!
NWP was able to fulfil a role in both the Innovation Pavilion (at United Nations Headquarters) as well as the Waterhouse (in the building that houses the Netherlands Consulate General in New York). For NWP, the New York Water Week was an opportunity to showcase, through its participants, some of the things the Dutch Water Sector does best.
For many parties, the run-up to the 20-24 March week in New York was somewhat chaotic, with many stakeholders finalizing their programme at the last minute. In addition, with so many moving parts, different programme elements, venues and topics, those attending or interested in the proceedings also had to put their best efforts into getting a handle on the overall programming.
Once in New York, the uncertainty about the final programming and the overall conference and water week layout, was quickly replaced by ‘Option Anxiety’ – the sheer volume of activities and events in several venues was simply overwhelming. And all of this against the backdrop of New York City – a city that is always hustling and bustling, loud, never dull and forever on the move.
It is in this setting, that NWP was able to fulfil a role in both the Innovation Pavilion (at United Nations Headquarters) as well as the Waterhouse (in the building that houses the Netherlands Consulate General in New York). For NWP, the New York Water Week was an opportunity to showcase, through our participants, some of the things the Dutch Water Sector does best. The NWP-team lined-up four sessions around topics that are relevant and current in today’s global water challenge debate.
In the four sessions, we touched on some of the key challenges that are currently shaping the global dialogue regarding our water resources.
Deltares kicked off the week with a session on river basin management. In close collaboration with The China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) – and with contributions by a range of stakeholders including the World Bank, the International Rivers Foundation, the Nature Conservancy and the Netherlands Commission on Environmental Assessment (MER) – the session touched on the fact that river management extends, or should extend, beyond water supply and sanitation, transport and flood protection. Effective and future-oriented management needs to include the whole basin and its governance, from source to sea, and also include all the activities on land, be they economic, environmental or social.
Next in our line-up of events was IUCN with a session entitled ‘From pledge to practice: A roadmap towards action’. The session was well timed, as we are progressing on the UN Water Action Agenda. In order to do that, we need to provide stakeholders with tools and insights on scaling up best practices and successfully translating verbal commitments into physical actions. Contributions in this session were made by IUCN Netherlands, the World Wildlife Fund and Tropenbos International, and the featured best practices were from Uganda and Bolivia. There was also an in-depth discussion on nature-based solutions and its ability to be a changemaker in future development.
The last Friday of the UN2023 Water Conference and the New York Water Week featured two NWP sessions. One of them – moderated by Ioana Dobrescu, Managing Director of the Global Footprint Implementation initiative – discussed our collective water footprint in everything we do, and how we can compensate for the pressure we put on scarce water resources. This is why Water Footprint Implementation (WFI) and academic and private sector partners are developing both technical guidelines for defining Water Footprint Compensation and a platform to match businesses with relevant compensation projects. WFI operates in close collaboration with Acacia Water, Akvo Foundation, and many other partners.
The second and last event that NWP hosted at the Waterhouse was the Hydraloop-led event on circularity in water usage. The session highlighted the need to transition from linear to circular water management and how this climate-adaptive approach can substantially reduce water uptake, wastewater emissions, the carbon footprint, energy consumption, and reduce water and energy bills.
As part of this week’s activities, Water Alliance’s Global Expert Group Circular Water launched a publication entitled ‘Blueprint for a circular water smart society’ at the New York Water Week. NWP is happy to be one of the supporters that endorsed the Blueprint, underlining the importance of circular water.
The Blueprint provides an overview of the causes of the current water crisis and how the use of safe circular water sources in the urban environment is a quick-to-implement and smart solution to reduce tap water use and wastewater emissions by 20% to 45%. The Global Expert Group Circular Water is chaired by Arthur Valkieser, CEO/CTO and co-founder of NWP member Hydraloop.
All in all, the week was satisfying and emphasised our collective need to act now. From an NWP perspective, we were happy to be able to support and promote many NWP members in New York.
Featured NWP members: Arcadis, Unie van Waterschappen, Royal HaskoningDHV, eLEAF, Sensoterra, LG Sonic, Hydraloop, IUCN - National Committee of The Netherlands, IHE Delft, TU Delft, Deltares, Acacia Water, Aqua For All, Capitals Coalition , Royal Eijkelkamp, Van Oord, Desolenator, Felixx Landscape Architects and Planners, Dutch Energy from Water Association, International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC), Netherlands commission for environmental assessment, One Architecture, Plan Nederland