Minister Schultz advocates UN water-issues programme

Today, at the opening of the International Water Week in Amsterdam, Minister Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure & the Environment advocated a special UN programme for water issues. Such a programme would combine international knowledge on flood protection, the supply of sufficient clean water, and the treatment of wastewater and could aid countries by providing concrete, innovative solutions.

Largest water event in Europe

This afternoon, Minister Schultz opened the International Water Week in the RAI in Amsterdam. The event is being held in the Netherlands for the first time. It is the largest water event in Europe and its aim is to bring together the worlds of water technology, water management and delta technology, and to promote knowledge sharing among experts at the local, national and international level. The theme of the conference is: Integrated Water Solutions for a Green Economy. In addition to the conference on Monday, the Aquatech trade fair will also be held this week, along with the Industrial Leaders Forum attended by executives from Shell, DSM, Unilever, Dow and Arcadis, among others. The Utility Leaders Forum and Young Water Professionals Programme will also be taking place this week. The organisers of the International Water Week are: RAI Amsterdam, the International Water Association (IWA), International Water Conferences (IWC) and the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP).

Moral duty

Minister Schultz: “Here, we are bringing together knowledge and experience from different continents, from different professions and from different kinds of lives. But this collaboration is not enough. I am a firm advocate of a special UN programme for tackling water issues internationally.  Water problems must have higher priority on political agendas. It is our moral duty to use our knowledge to aid other nations. If all the parties present here today join forces and invest together in  creativity, innovation and sustainability, we can make a difference.”

Management and funding

In 2050, over 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. Many of these cities are in vulnerable areas along the coast or in low-lying river deltas. Minister Schultz wants to build resilient cities, capable of withstanding rising sea levels and climate change. “We need to design our urban areas in such a way that the most densely populated areas are safe. Using dikes, but also artificial dwelling hills, rainwater reservoirs incorporated into public spaces, car parks that can be used for water storage, and houses that are protected from high water damage up to a certain level.” Minister Schultz stressed that all challenges presented by water, from flooding to wastewater, are linked to one another. “We can only solve these problems with an integrated approach. By centrally organising management and funding we can clear the way for creative and practical solutions. Less talk and more action.”