From 20 to 24 August, Luzette Kroon and Emilie Sturm represented the Blue Deal during the World Water Week in Stockholm. There they participated in sessions and talked with, among others, the Islamic Development Bank about investment plans. The week was devoted to the follow-up of the UN Water Conference in New York.
Kroon is a board member of the Association of Dutch Water Authorities and responsible for the international portfolio. She is also president of the Blue Deal. Sturm is programme manager of the Blue Deal. The Blue Deal is the joint international programme of the 21 Dutch water authorities.
Why did you participate in World Water Week?
Sturm: “The week in Stockholm was all about the follow-up to the Water Action Agenda that was adopted during the UN Water Conference. What is the status of the commitments that were made? In the run-up to the UN Water Conference, we as Blue Deal were the first to make a commitment to the Action Agenda, namely doubling the money and commitment to the Blue Deal.”
“So we were also in Stockholm to show what we have done in the past 8 months since our commitment. Luzette Kroon talked about this in a panel during the session ‘UN 2023 Water Conference: From voluntary commitments to impact’. She explained, among other things, how we have focused even more on learning from each other within the Blue Deal. As partner countries among each other, but also how the Netherlands can learn from our partner countries. We facilitated this learning, for example, by organising a major Blue Deal Congress in Amsterdam in June. 14 partner countries were present. We have also focused more on learning from each other via Communities of Practice on various themes.”
In New York, the Blue Deal wanted to draw attention to the importance of investments in operations and maintenance. Did you also pay attention to that in Stockholm?
Sturm: “We organised a first session about this in New York to discuss this with financiers. This led, among other things, to an exploration with the Islamic Development Bank. We have now reached the point where we intend to cooperate, in which the Islamic Development Bank wants to invest in a pilot in 2 of our partner countries: Burkina Faso and the Palestinian Territories. We discussed this further one-on-one in Stockholm.”
Did you have any other goals in Stockholm?
Sturm: “We met the new Dutch water envoy, Meike van Ginneken. She is the successor of Henk Ovink. I participated in the Wavemakers panel. This was about how you can give young people a bigger role in solving water problems. Van Ginneken then announced the Gamechangers Challenge, which will be launched next year during the Olympic Games in Paris. This will be a challenge that in which young people are asked to come up with solutions for problems on important water themes. I have promised that we will make a prize available, whereby the winner can do a feasibility study to see whether we can really apply the solution in the practice of one of our partnerships.”
How do you look back at the World Water Week?
“Personally, I’m not really a fan of congresses at all, but I noticed that it really helps our programme further. This congress creates momentum for the water sector to follow up on the agreements made during the UN congress.”
“And I was very inspired. Especially from what we can learn from indigenous peoples, which was discussed in a number of sessions. As water authorities, we have been working on nature-based solutions for a long time, also within the Blue Deal. Indigenous people know much more about this than we do, their way of life is to live with nature. Yet they are often overlooked in water management, even though they may hold the key to success.”