Opening of the Innovative Water Technologies Symposium

“International cooperation doesn’t always have to happen in a faraway country. Why not seek cooperation closer to home? Because together we can fend off competition from emerging markets in Asia more successfully. And that will benefit both our economies.

As well as the people we are ultimately doing it for.” Said minister Schultz on the 24th of april in Berlin."

Ladies and gentlemen,

A warm welcome to all of you here today at this joint symposium – a wonderful example of the close relationship enjoyed by Germany and the Netherlands.

We are good neighbours, yet rivals on the sports field. When we play each other at football it’s always a tense occasion. And that’s reflected in our water consumption too.

At half-time during the last Germany-Holland match, our country hit a peak of 8,000 cubic metres of water, falling to below 4,000 during the game itself....

Trade between our two countries is lively, growing by more than 4% last year to over 157 billion euros.

So organising a joint symposium on water technology would seem like an obvious thing to do.

But actually, it’s not as obvious as it seems.

And I say this for two reasons.

First, Dutch water companies are highly active around the globe, but not really in Germany.

Maybe it’s because we’re unfamiliar with the German water sector or because we’re too modest and don’t think Germany needs Dutch expertise.

This symposium is going to change that!

Second, we don’t often combine our efforts in the international field of water technology and innovation.

And that’s a shame, because together we can be more competitive at global level. Both our countries have to avoid being overtaken by emerging economies like Korea, India and China.

There are so many reasons for us to work together more closely.

We both have a high degree of knowledge, we are both seen as reliable, and we both create exceptional products.

But perhaps we don’t yet know each other well enough.

That’s why this trade fair and this symposium are a step in the right direction.

Dutch companies that want to get more active on the German market have my full support.

Because I’m proud of our water sector.

It’s one of the nine top sectors the Dutch government is promoting − encouraging businesses, researchers and government to help reinforce each other’s efforts.

An effective approach.

There are some interesting examples of state-of-the-art technology.

- Like the Nereda method for waste water treatment.

- Or the method Dutch watertech companies have devised to produce biogas from waste water.

- Or the technology developed by our knowledge institute Wetsus to generate energy from saltwater and freshwater.

You’ll be hearing a lot more about these technologies later.

We are keen to apply our knowledge in other countries.

77% of Dutch watertech companies are active abroad.

And more than a quarter of these are so internationally oriented that they generate fifty to a hundred per cent of their revenue outside the Netherlands.

But I should stress again that there’s room for improvement. Other countries are increasingly looking for total solutions: design – build – operate.

But Dutch companies are usually too small to provide such a service on their own. We need to work together more, but why not work with German companies too?

I’m not saying we don’t work together at all.

For instance, German and Dutch partners (including Wetsus) are currently carrying out joint research into disinfecting waste water from hospitals and extracting heat from sewage.

That’s a great example of businesses, researchers and governments working together.

But we can take this cooperation to another level.

So, before I finish, I would like to call on you to take action.

International cooperation doesn’t always have to be two or three time zones away.

Let’s explore the opportunities closer to home and strengthen our water technology ties.

Both our countries stand to gain.

I wish you all a productive and rewarding symposium.

Thank you.