Countries in Southeast Asia and the Netherlands have worked together on water solutions for years. This cooperation has been strengthened by the extensive Virtual Mission Southeast Asia, spanning over two months. The mission was initiated by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Netherlands Water Partnership was responsible for the Water Track.
With a market of almost half a billion inhabitants combined, the ASEAN-5 is, after China and India, the biggest consumer market of the world. Dutch investments in this market are growing rapidly and exports are worth almost € 10 billion per year. The organisers of the virtual mission identified several sectors that could benefit from a more intensified cooperation. Water being one of them, including cross overs with agrifood and waste management. The mission was focused on Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
NWP organised a full virtual Water Track programme featuring Dutch water expertise relevant for the ASEAN region as part of the Virtual Mission to Southeast Asia from 12 October till 11 December 2020. The programme consisted of a kick-off and in-depth sessions on land subsidence and digital water. Over 30 Dutch organisations joined the Water Track. NWP Managing Director Bianca Nijhof was mission leader and moderated the kick-off.
The kick-off of the Water Track was dedicated to land subsidence, a challenge both countries in Southeast Asia and the Netherlands face. Together with Dutch and international experts, this session looked at Nature Based Solutions and how this can offer relief. Gualbert Oude Essink of Deltares, one of the speakers, underlined the importance of the subject during the roundtable discussions. "If you stop ground water extraction now, you still have land subsidence. It can take 20 to 30 years to see subsidence slow down. That is why we have to act now. The decisions of today will determine the status of the delta tomorrow."
More inspiration was delivered by contributions of Cora van Nieuwenhuizen - Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management; Reinier Oost - Sensar projects; Dr. Tussanee Nettasana - Dept. of Groundwater Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand; Fokko van der Goot - EcoShape; Weny Sihombing – Witteveen+Bos and Isao Endo, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Bank. [ link naar opname]
"This platform and NWP’s contribution is about strengthening our knowledge and working together across borders to support in tackling our water challenges. By collaborating we can jointly contribute to help realise the SDG2030 agenda and secure water safety and water security for all."
Managing Director Netherlands Water Partnership and mission leader for the Water Track
The Digital Water webinar on 24 November brought forward multiple opportunities on real-time data: from machine learning to satellite technology and from digital twins to robotics. Dutch water utility Vitens started their digital journey in 2017 and presented their findings during this session. 'Our infrastructure was a black box', said Rik Thijssen, Manager Business Development at Vitens during his presentation. Increasing water demand and an aging infrastructure were some of the reasons Vitens went digital. And they turned their journey up a notch. The recent use of an Autonomous Inspection Robot (AIR) is a real gamechanger, according to Thijssen.
Michael Toh, Director, Industry and Technology Collaboration of PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency, underlined the importance of engaging the employees at PUB in the company's digital transformation plan. Other contributions were given by Hareld van den Brink - Hal24k Water , Jos-Willem Verhoef - Optiqua B.V., Sabine de Milliano - 52impact, and Aris Witteborg - Royal HaskoningDHV. The closing remarks of Henk Ovink, special Water Envoy, highlighted the longstanding collaboration between the Netherlands and the Asia region, and the importance of technology and cooperation for water security.
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En marge of the Virtual Mission Southeast Asia, NWP has organised a first session in the lead up to the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW). This session called Road2SIWW took place in December 2020, identifying the possibilities and interest of the Dutch water sector of joining the SIWW. The second edition of Road2SIWW in April 2021 was organised en marge of the Business Platform Southeast Asia, the follow up of the virtual mission. https://www.netherlandswaterpartnership.com/events/road-singapore-international-water-week
With over 700 participants and more than 350 successful matchmaking session, the Virtual Mission Southeast Asia proved its worth and a follow- up. This led to the launch of the Business Platform Southeast Asia. This platform also offers the possibility of following up on sessions, cooperations and actions that took place during the virtual mission. The platform focuses on Agri-Food, Water and Waste Management/Circular Economy sectors and provides local market information and the possibility to share information and interact with business partners in Southeast Asia and the Netherlands. The platform will be active until 15 September 2021 https://virtual-mission-asean5.b2match.io/page-2391
NWP has been working together with RVO to develop events in 2020 and 2021 to connect Dutch and local entrepreneurs, NGOs, governmental organisations and knowledge institutes in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.