9 sep 2013 - In New York today, Minister Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure & the Environment argued for a new international initiative for tackling global water problems. “The sea level is rising, weather is becoming more extreme. Across the globe, increasingly more people are living in low-lying cities. We need to ensure that this subject receives structural, international attention. We have a moral and practical obligation to use our expertise to help other countries all over the world,” Ms Schultz explained at the Dutch-US H2O9 conference in New York.
The second edition of the H209 Forum is taking place in New York today and tomorrow. Dutch and American experts will be discussing the water challenges of the 21st century. Minister Schultz and US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan are Honorary Chairs. Ms Schultz: ‘’Changing circumstances demand new answers. The United Nations and other international organisations are devoting attention to water problems, but it is fragmented and not focused enough. I am an advocate of an international initiative in which the full spectrum of the global water problem is discussed and results in concrete innovative solutions. This initiative could be a special UN committee or a different body in which we can combine our human and financial resources at the international level. Water problems – too much water as well as too little – are becoming too big to be ignored.
During the International World Water Day celebrations in The Hague on March 21, the Netherlands called for international agreements on a global water goal. In this way it could become part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Dutch knowledge in the fields of water management and water safety is held in high regard internationally. Dutch water experts are working on projects in more than 80 countries around the world. “This provides knowledge that is not only useful for low-lying countries like the Netherlands but can also be of benefit to the entire world. And conversely, we want to learn from others,” according to Minister Schultz.
That is why the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & the Environment and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development are working together closely. “Water links us,” Ms Schultz said. “On both sides of the ocean we are facing the same challenge of protecting our coastal areas from an uncertain future. By having smart people from the business community, the scientific world and governments cooperate, we will arrive at innovative solutions which will ultimately be of benefit to countries across the globe.”