Global population growth coupled with the impact of climate change is putting already dwindling water resources under severe pressure and is leading to more frequent incidents of drought, flooding, salinity intrusion, and land subsidence.
The Netherlands is an important global player in both agriculture and water management. Yet, despite significant efforts, there are still too few concrete success stories that demonstrate the business case for an integrated approach to water for food. The Water for Food Programme addresses this issue by stimulating and facilitating the Dutch water sector and agrifood partners to develop business cases within this nexus.
The Water for Food Programme seeks to catalyse the development of water-related business cases in the agri-food sector through the cooperation of Dutch water sector players in consortia, and by focusing on potential business cases in specific local markets internationally. This will illustrate that business models can be created by adopting an integrated approach and by focusing on the business case aspect. Innovative water technologies and practices are key to improving the efficiency and productivity of water in agriculture, resulting in more sustainable food systems, and improved food security.
The multi-year Programme was initiated by NWP, which saw a clear need for this type of programme in the Dutch water sector. It is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and was extended by another year. NWP operates as the neutral coordinator and facilitator of the Programme, focusing on its goals and executing its various components. One of the key advantages of the Water for Food Programme is our large network and strong connection with the water sector. We continuously work on the further development of the Programme bottom-up, using input from the sector. We bring together the substantive knowledge of and solutions from Dutch organisations which leads to strong business cases.
We continuously connect to global partners in many of the Programme’s projects and help connect successful business cases to financial institutions to scale up and replicate. We facilitate matchmaking between the water and agrifood sectors and thus strengthen the nexus.
The Water for Food Programme is a multi-year Programme, initially planned for a period of two years (2021-2022). Since then, several stakeholders in the water-agrifood sector and the Government have recognised that the Programme fills an important gap and connects water and agriculture. The Programme was thus extended by a year. The goal of the follow-up to the Water for Food Programme is to continue developing both sustainable and bankable business cases in which agriculture meets water.
The Programme’s objectives are to bring about improved food security, sustainable water use and protect ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as actively accelerate business cases for the Dutch water sector in the agrifood domain.
Further, by demonstrating concrete and viable solutions in the water-agrifood nexus, the Programme will boost the visibility of the Netherlands as the global market leader in the water, agrifood and ecosystems sectors. This will optimise the Netherlands’ position in generating future business opportunities and support the Netherlands International Water Ambition (NIWA) and the SDGs.
The long-term objective is to establish a sustainable Water and Food ‘hub’ that connects players in the water and agrifood sector to co-create international projects and to serve as a central information point. The hub will act as a permanent platform that is open to Dutch entities interested in water and agrifood, where business opportunities can be explored and successful pilots be brought to the next stage of scaling up, replication or adaptation to other regions.
This programme is closely knit with the needs of the sector to develop a strong business case for Water for Food. It gives organisations the support they need to explore the viability of their propositions. And at the same time, it creates new solutions for the interlinkage between water and agrifood. A win-win!
Project Manager Events and Business Development
The cross-sectoral approach and the focus on financially viable local business cases in the most promising markets are crucial elements of the Programme. However, these make the Programme more complex. Developing sustainable solutions will take significant effort and multiple interventions, and can only be achieved if all the relevant know-how is shared amongst and put into action by stakeholders. The experienced Project Manager Programme facilitates this process.
In addition to the above-mentioned Business case objectives, the Water for Food Programme runs what it calls ‘masterclasses’. These are in-depth training programmes, co-created and executed with local stakeholders in a Programme involving Dutch and local players. The masterclasses are based on specific local problems for which there may be customised Dutch solutions. Each masterclass is designed as a tailored programme, which may then act as a starting point for further cooperation and generate business.’
The Programme illustrates that business models can be achieved by adopting an integrated nexus approach and focusing on the business case aspect. It has several unique features.
As the programme manager, NWP is a neutral and independent authority in the water sector and a recognised and valued partner for international organisations. Our position as the pre-eminent networking organisation of the Dutch water sector enables us to stimulate the sector to embrace and further explore opportunities in the agrifood space. This places us in a unique position to manage this Programme.