'When the going gets tough, the tough get going.' Billy Ocean had the right mindset in his 1980s song. The Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) took this to heart when organising the Netherlands Pavilion at the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal. At the request of the Dutch Government, NWP took this last-minute opportunity, in cooperation with the European Union, to create a well-attended meeting point for the Dutch and international water community.
The Government of the Netherlands and the European Union were actively involved in this year's World Water Forum (WWF) through high-level representation in the programme as well as on the expo floor with a combined EU-NL Pavilion. It was great to see how the Conference's co-hosts strengthened their relationship at the EU-NL Pavilion.
The Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) co-organised and hosted the Pavilion on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management from 22 to 27 March 2022. In organising the EU-NL Pavilion, NWP worked closely with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Dakar, Senegal, and staff members of the European Union.
The event was also an important stepping stone to the UN Water Conference which will be co-hosted by the Government of the Netherlands and Tajikistan in 2023. Tajikistani Special Envoy, Mr Sulton Rahimzoda, and Dutch Special Envoy, Henk Ovink, further discussed the road to the UN 2023 Water Conference at the WWF.
The comparison with one of Billy Oceans' greatest hits stops here. Although we climbed this mountain and put our soul into organising this event, it was the combination of NWP's efforts and 20 years of experience that made this event a success. NWP was an important liaison between the different parties involved in the WWF. The result was an EU-NL Pavilion that was an excellent platform for meaningful discussions, meet-ups and one-on-one talks. It was also a place to mingle and connect with water enthusiasts from all over the world.
NWP was happy to support its members and partners at the event: Deltares, IGRAC, Women for Water Partnership, Aqua for All, WASTE, Valuing Water Initiative, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water management, IHE Delft, Global Center on Adaptation, and the Water Peace and Security Partnership.
The World Water Forum week was packed with activities, meetings, and inspiration. Here are some highlights of the EU-NL Pavilion.
Opening WWF and EU-NL Pavilion
On 21 March, the 9th World Water Forum was launched in a ceremonial opening with opening remarks by the President of Senegal Macky Sall, in the presence of high-level attendees from around the world. The key message: L’eau est la vie! – Water is life!
The EU-NL Pavilion was officially inaugurated by the Ambassador of the EU to Senegal, Irène Mingasson; Deputy Director-General of the European Commission, Marjeta Jager; Director of Lending in Africa at the European Investment Bank (EIB) Global, Maria Shaw-Barragan; Ambassador of the Netherlands to Senegal, Joan Wiegman; Head of Division at the European Investment Bank, Thomas Van Gilst; and, Dutch Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Henk Ovink. After the official opening, there was a well-attended network drink with live Senegalese music. Our NWP colleagues Mirjam van Buchem and Miriam Pot were pleased to welcome delegates from all over the world.
Cooperation NL and EIB
On 22 March, the Dutch Government agreed to provide EUR 25 million of new support to the Water Sector Fund managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB). Dutch Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Henk Ovink, and EIB Vice President, Ambroise Fayolle, confirmed the strengthened cooperation in the EU-NL Pavilion.
"The Water Sector Fund combines the unique commitment of the Netherlands to address global water challenges and the extensive experience of the European Investment Bank in investing in water worldwide. It will enable us to make water and sanitation projects more sustainable and inclusive and help mobilise additional funding from other financiers or investors,” said Henk Ovink.
Read more on dutchwatersector.com.
Playing an active role at different events worldwide, NWP facilitated a strong connection on 23 March between water efforts at Expo 2020 Dubai and the World Water Forum in Senegal. Henk Ovink and NWP colleague Mirjam van Buchem had a live video call from WWF during the Wavemakers Academy session in Dubai. Connecting with the activities in Dubai, Henk Ovink did a shout out to the youth to be provocative and constructive.
Women for Water flash mob
The Women for Water Partnership organised the ‘Water your Future Career – Young (female) professionals meet employers’ flash mob, where gender inequality challenges were discussed by young women from all over the world. One of the most commonly shared experiences is that women are overlooked for high positions in organisations. Our NWP colleague, Miriam Pot, was invited to the session and shared her ideas on gender inequality and how it relates to both women and men. As Miriam said, "change can start with a simple conversation on this topic, not only at your organisation, but also at home, with friends and family."