Water is pivotal for an integrated, sustainable and inclusive approach to climate adaptation. Next week, three events in which the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) is heavily involved, reflect the growing focus on water's key role; the Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW), Aquatech Amsterdam and the Urban & Rural Development Week at Expo Dubai. Bianca Nijhof, Managing Director at NWP, looks forward to greeting many visitors, in-person and online: "We all need to work together to face urgent global water challenges."
"The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered a message that is as clear as it is harsh and disturbing. Sea levels are rising at a growing rate, increasing the risk of flooding. All over the world, we are dealing with weather and climate extremes such as heat waves, heavy rainfall, drought and tropical cyclones. One factor plays a central role in all of this: water.
It is vital that this essential role is now explicitly recognised worldwide, and that water is seen as a central element for an integrated, sustainable and inclusive approach to climate adaptation. The programme for the COP26 in Glasgow in the coming week clearly reflects this. There is a great sense of urgency, but above all, we have to move from reports to reality, and for that, we need each other. The Dutch water sector offers its knowledge and experience to the world, and at the same time we want to learn from what is happening elsewhere."
"Let me mention some of the highlights of next week's events.
First, the Amsterdam International Water Week. The connecting role of water is reflected in AIWW's theme: 'Blue-Green deals with Integrated Solutions', along the three pillars of societal, technical and ecological aspects.
Commissioned by the Partners for Water Programme, NWP organises and hosts five online sessions on Monday 1 and Tuesday 2 November. Topics range from combining green and blue in the Balkans, social inclusion in water management, and global challenges and local solutions in water and agrifood, to Dutch innovative and decentralised solutions in the UK and Spain, and urban and coastal resilience in the face of climate extremes in the Americas.
Secondly, from 2 to 5 November, we will be managing the Netherlands Pavilion at Aquatech Amsterdam, made possible by Partners for Water, and in close collaboration with Water Alliance and ENVAQUA. The Pavilion will undoubtedly be an eye-catcher once again, and it will highlight many innovative water solutions ready to turn ambitions into reality. Because innovation is key in the transition from a linear to a circular economy.
And finally, NWP is coordinator of the Dutch water track during Expo 2020 Dubai. Together with the City of Rotterdam and the Government of the Netherlands, we are organising a one-day event on 1 November called 'Two Extremes: Flooding and Heatwaves. Resilience Challenges and Innovation in Cities and Coastal Areas'. Cities and coastal areas around the world are dealing with two extremes: more frequent and intense floods and heat waves. And since 55 percent of the world's population currently lives in urban areas - a figure expected to increase to 68 percent by 2050 - these extremes affect a lot of people.
At the event, cities' representatives will exchange ideas, stories of adaptation, and innovative solutions that are helping to address these two extreme issues. This event is part of the extensive programme in the Netherlands Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai."
There is a great sense of urgency. But above all, we have to move from reports to reality, and for that, we need each other.
"Now that the pandemic is slowly getting behind us, there is more room to meet each other live. We will certainly take advantage of those opportunities. Because personal encounters can provide that 'click', when we make the connection. At the live events I attended recently, I always noticed that they gave me new energy and inspiration.
At the same time, thanks to the restrictions of the past year and a half, we have learnt to be very inventive. We have discovered new ways to meet and communicate, and we have grown used to them - online has almost become the new normal and we make use of those great opportunities every day. The biggest advantage in my opinion is that all those virtual meetings have lowered the threshold, both financially and geographically. The exchange of knowledge has become much more inclusive, because it is more accessible to almost everyone, everywhere."
"Now, we are trying to achieve the best of both worlds: we can meet in person again, but we also want to cherish inclusiveness and accessibility. As NWP, we have worked hard on that hybrid-live balance, in preparation for these three events. And I think we succeeded. I am proud of all of my colleagues who helped make this possible; as a networking organisation, making the connection is in our DNA.
I call on everyone to experience it, in person and online, in Amsterdam and in Dubai. Because we need everyone to face the global water challenge."