Netherlands co-organized UN conference must put water higher on the agenda
More attention needs to be paid worldwide to clean and safe drinking water, protection against floods and droughts, and the affordability of drinking water. This will be the focus of a major UN conference in New York, co-organized by the Netherlands. The conference will take place from Wednesday to Friday as part of New York Water Week.
A total of more than 6,600 participants are taking part, and 193 countries are sending a delegation. The Netherlands will be represented by King Willem-Alexander and Ministers Mark Harbers (Infrastructure) and Liesje Schreinemacher (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation). Also present will be the mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb. He will speak about water management and Rotterdam's climate resilience.
The Netherlands is co-hosting the conference with Tajikistan: the Netherlands is located in a river delta and therefore has a long history in water management, while Tajikistan is located at the head of a river basin and has a lot of experience in water retention. King Willem-Alexander will open the summit on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Dutch king will already visit some projects in the city.
The conference serves as a prelude to the Dubai climate summit later this year. Topics discussed include water and health, sustainable economy, and climate.
Furthermore, cooperation and potential conflicts over water will also be discussed. Water is becoming increasingly scarce and access to it is causing conflict between countries. For some time, there has been tension between Egypt and Sudan on the one hand, and Ethiopia on the other, because the latter has built a large dam on the Nile River. This could put pressure on the water supplies of Egypt and Sudan, which have always relied on the Nile.
According to insiders, no hard, quantifiable goals will be agreed upon at the conference. Rather, the goal is to agree on various principles. The first UN water conference was held in 1977: At that time, it was agreed that all peoples of the world, regardless of their level of development, have the right to access drinking water.
Reporting by ANP