Netherlands and World Bank join forces on water issues

The World Bank has asked the Netherlands to play a prominent role in tackling global water issues. The country’s water management knowledge and expertise lie behind the bank’s request. This morning, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, and World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to this end in Washington DC.

‘Water is a Dutch policy priority,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘This initiative confirms that the Netherlands has what it takes to successfully tackle the growing global challenges. It is a great opportunity for our country – together with Dutch businesses and knowledge institutions – to enhance its role as a global pioneer.’

Dr Kim echoed Ms Ploumen’s sentiments, saying that ‘The Netherlands has a unique relationship with water, and as a result, we have found them to be visionary partners. They have the experience to frame the right challenges, and the expertise to advise on real solutions’.

In the past decade the World Bank has helped improve access to clean drinking water and/or sanitation for 130 million people, and it will help another 200 million in the next five years. The bank also finances investment in flood protection and waste water treatment. As well as being environmentally friendly, these projects must focus on helping the world’s poorest benefit from economic development.

The Netherlands’ prominent position in the World Bank’s recently established Water Global Practice gives the country substantial influence over water credit. At present, around USD 21 billion has already been issued in loans, and the plan is to provide USD 4 to 5 billion annually in new and improved loans between 2015 and 2019. The Netherlands itself is contributing USD 50 million to the ‘water bank’ fund.

Ms Ploumen noted that ‘This unique cooperation with the World Bank means we can get more out of the available capital. First and foremost, that works to the advantage of those directly affected, but it also benefits our own water sector, allowing it to be involved both in the bank and in projects on the ground’.

The ‘water bank’ is part of the World Bank’s reforms, which also include the establishment of an Advisory Council on Water. This council will – at the World Bank’s request – be co-chaired by the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen.