Minister Schultz signs water cooperation agreement with Burma

Minister Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure & the Environment) today signed an agreement with Burma’s minister Nyan Tun Aung (Transport) on closer cooperation between the two countries in the field of integrated water management. The Netherlands will make knowledge and know-how available to support the Burmese people in flood defences, agricultural water management, the fresh-water supply and transport by water. In return, the Netherlands can learn from the weather extremes that often hit Burma.

River delta

Minister Schultz: “Like the Netherlands, Burma is a river delta. And, like the Netherlands, Burma has a long coastline. We would like to share the lessons we have learned with others. Two heads are better than one. Together, we will look for solutions to the challenges Burma is facing: dry feet, clean water and a fruitful countryside.”

Steering group

In 2008, Cyclone Nargis caused the deaths of 140,000 people in Burma. In 2010, the country was again hit hard, and two weeks ago Cyclone Mahasen left victims in its wake. Under this agreement, the Dutch and Burmese ministries will together set up a steering group which will organise mutual participation in projects and programmes, technical training courses, seminars and study trips, and will flesh out a an integrated water strategy for Burma. The duration of the agreement is three years. 

Historic start

Minister Schultz is the first Dutch minister to make a bilateral visit to Burma since the military regime. With this mission, the Netherlands also wants to give a political sign of support for the country’s recent  democratic reforms. “I regard this as the historic start to a promising relationship. A partnership founded on political reforms, respect for human rights and economic development. A partnership that will be of benefit to the people of Burma as well as the Netherlands.”

Promising

The focus of the trade mission to Burma is on water. Participants in the mission include: Arcadis, RoyalHaskoningDHV, Deltares, Van Oord and Delft University of Technology. This notwithstanding, there are wider opportunities for cooperation and investment. For this reason, Shell and Philips are also represented. Minister Schultz emphasises that the Netherlands can also be an important partner in the fields of  transport, logistics and environmental technology. “The opportunities for economic cooperation are many and promising. I firmly believe that – together with local partners – Dutch knowledge institutions, the business community and government agencies can be of great significance for Burma.”