Blue Deal Congress Day 3: water management in practice

June 14 was day 3 of the Blue Deal conference, the last day of the joint programme. Time to see Dutch water management in practice. The participants could therefore choose from an excursion to one of these locations: the Markermeerdijken, the Zandmotor or the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen. Looking back on day 3.

Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen (Amsterdam Water Supply Dunes)

“When building cities, people have always been looking for ways to bring in water,” says the guide who gives the tour through the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen. He will first give a presentation on how Dutch water management actually works. Today it is not so much about how governance works – the participants learned more about this on Monday – but about how the Netherlands has been working on flood risk management and sufficient water since its inception. A woman from Kenya laughs and asks: “Are you planning to reclaim even more land or do you think this is enough?”

Water monitoring during the visit to the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

Questions about water management

The other questions clearly show what the countries themselves are struggling with. For example, the man from Ethiopia who asks how the Netherlands makes agreements with the other countries through which the rivers run. Or the woman from Kenya who asks who determines how deep drilling is allowed to pump up groundwater by farmers, for example, and how that works with regulations and enforcement. And another question from the audience: how do you prevent water pollution?

Drinking water

Although the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen are mainly intended for drinking water, the participants can still learn a lot from them for their work. For example, about purification with natural sources, such as the dunes. Moreover, drinking water and other water management are not always separated from each other abroad.

A visit to the Markermeer Dikes

Markermeer Dikes and Sand Motor

The other groups visit 2 projects related to flood risk management, the Markermeer Dikes and the Sand Motor. They also return enthusiastically from the locations. In Ghana, plans are currently underway to build their own Sand Motor. The entire delegation therefore chooses to participate in this excursion to learn more about the project and to see with their own eyes what such a Sand Motor will look like.

End of the day

In the evening, the participants conclude with a dinner and a performance by Waternet’s house band, in which several international guests eventually play a part. And of course, as befits an international party, there is a lot of dancing.

A visit to the Sand Motor


The delegations from Argentina, Burkina Faso, Colombia, eSwatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Palestinian territories, Peru, Romania, Vietnam and South Africa will visit one of the 21 partner water authorities during the last 2 days of the congress.

> Read about Day 1

> Read about Day 2

Blue Deal Congress Day 2: learning from each other

The second day of the Blue Deal Congress took place on 13 June. This day was dedicated to 6 workshops on topics that play a major role within the Blue Deal. Looking back at Day 2.

A group of people is sitting in a room and talking to each other in smaller groups

The themes of the sessions were:

  • Water pricing
  • Water safety management
  • Stakeholder participation
  • Urban waste water management
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Smart monitoring

These are all themes within the Blue Deal where knowledge is also shared through Communities of Practice (CoPs) throughout the year. Participants from all partnerships can participate in this. Are you a Blue Deal member and want to join a CoP? Send an email to Monique Zwiers via

Water Pricing

Takhona Dlamini from eSwatini was one of the international guests who gave a presentation during the Water pricing workshop. She says: “We live in a region with water scarcity, where a lot of water is also used for irrigation. We have started pricing the use of water. This entails many challenges, for example for farmers. Today we shared our experiences with other countries during a session. We learned a lot about different ways other countries have regulated water prices. For example, in some countries you pay for the amount of water you use or you need a permit for certain activities in a region.” She found the session educational and fun: “We are all part of the large Blue Deal family.”

Water safety management

During the session on flood risk management, the construction of dikes was not discussed. In fact, building a dike is “only half the job”, says Monique Zwiers of the Blue Deal Programme Office. “During construction, you already have to think about how you are going to organize maintenance.”

And there is often no budget for management and maintenance. Large financiers, such as the investment banks, also invest mainly in the construction of water infrastructure rather than in maintenance. Zwiers: “The Blue Deal is now also working on this, to find out how we can make such investments attractive to major donors.”

Stakeholder participation

The session on stakeholder participation proved once again how many similarities there are between the Blue Deal partner countries. They all deal with similar interest groups, such as communities, farmers, fishermen or companies that use the water. The partner countries are also struggling with similar challenges in terms of financing and communication. The solution to the challenges has not yet been found in these short sessions. “But,” says Marcel de Ruijter, Partnership Manager for Romania, “This is just a start for sharing information with each other. It is the beginning of a process.”

Waste water management

During session on waste water management, 2 opposing ways of water purification were discussed: South Africa with a traditional approach and the Palestinian territories that use a high-tech, innovative approach. Both forms are good, emphasizes Hans Schepman, of the partnership in South Africa. “It really depends on the local context which solution you choose.” In addition, during this session it was strongly emphasized how important natural solutions (nature-based solutions) are. For example, through purification via wetlands.

The lack of funding for management and maintenance was also be discussed in this session. The participants do see all kinds of possibilities, such as revenue models for companies or by making the polluter pay.

Nature-based solutions

“There is a nature-based solution for every problem,” says Jaap Bos, of the Blue Deal partnership in Ghana. For example, the neighboring country of Ghana, Burkina Faso, like many other countries, has to deal with the proliferating water hyacinth. During the session on nature-based solutions, they spoke about how the problem with water hyacinth can be converted into something that can earn money. For example, some countries use it to produce biogas. The Blue Deal programme in South Africa has a training programme for women to use dried water hyacinth to make baskets, which they then sell. Burkina Faso and South Africa have already made an appointment to discuss this further. “It shows once again how important knowledge sharing is.”

Smart monitoring

Liesbeth Wilschut, from the Blue Deal Programme Office, holds up her mobile during the smart monitoring session. “Nowadays we have so many new options for water monitoring. This makes participatory monitoring much easier. And it is also very cheap.” She lets the participants try out how it works, to monitor the water themselves. With a special monitoring stick, the participants walk to the river Amstel, next to which the event location is located. They briefly dip the swab into the water and then place it on a special card and use their phone to read the data. What they learn about the water in the Amstel? “The amount of nitrate it contains is okay. You can safely swim in it.”

What’s on the agenda for June 14?

On June 14, the third day of the congress, the participants will go out. They then visit a location where they can see Dutch water management in practice. They can choose one of the options: the Markermeerdijken, the Sand Motor or the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen.

> Read about Day 1

> Read about Day 3

Blue Deal Congress Day 1: intercultural cooperation

The very first Blue Deal Congress started on June 12. International visitors from 16 partnerships were present. “This congress is a wonderful way to learn from each other: learning by meeting each other.” Looking back at Day 1.

Ikenna Azuike interviews Emilie Sturm (middle) and Luzette Kroon (right).

In the morning, Luzette Kroon and Emilie Sturm opened the day under the leadership of moderator Ikenna Azuike. Kroon is a board member International Affairs at the Association of Dutch Water Authorities. Sturm is programme manager of the Blue Deal Programme Office. Kroon: “This congress is a wonderful way to learn from each other: learning by meeting each other.” Because that is the purpose of these days together: to meet each other and thus create a basis for exchanging knowledge even more easily in the future. Between the Netherlands and the partner countries, but also between the partner countries themselves.

Drop in the ocean?

The purpose of the Blue Deal is to improve access to clean, sufficient and safe water for 20 million people around the world. “Isn’t that a drop in the ocean?” asks moderator Azuike. “Yes,” replies Kroon, “But we are not alone, so much more is happening in our partner countries. And other countries are also coming up with different programmes. At the UN Water Conference in March this year, we saw that a real movement is emerging. Western countries – largely responsible for climate change – are increasingly taking their responsibility.” The Blue Deal is one of the sources of inspiration in this, as was also apparent at the UN Water Conference.

Peter Glas: The Dutch model is not a blueprint

Keynote speaker of the day was Delta Commissioner Peter Glas. He gave a presentation on water management in the Netherlands. “The Dutch model is not a blueprint, but it can serve as inspiration for our colleagues from abroad.” For the foreign delegations, this Dutch model is certainly something they want to learn from. They ask questions and afterwards several people ask for the PowerPoint presentation, so that they can look at it again later or share it with colleagues.

Delta Commissioner Peter Glas

From draining to retaining

Glass also addresses the challenges facing the Netherlands. For example, that the Netherlands must retain more and more water instead of draining it. “We go from draining to retaining.” And there are all kinds of areas in which the Netherlands can learn from other countries. What can we learn from you in the field of water awareness and participation, Glas asks the audience. A South African guest responds: “In general, water awareness is very high in our area. But we notice that this is not always the case with young people. That is why we started a project: seedlings of hope. For example, together with children we will collect waste in the vicinity of a waterworks. We gradually start to tell more and more about how water management works.”

And what do the international delegations learn from the Blue Deal? For example, John Kinyanjui, from the partnership in Kenya, says during a panel discussion: “We want our government to pay more attention to our water resources. We should not just use the water and then not think about tomorrow. We want our government to realize that we also need to retain and replenish our water resources. We are now working on that with the Blue Deal.”

John Kinyanjui (holding the microphone) during the panel

Intercultural collaboration

The day ended with a session ‘Collaboration across cultures’ by trainers Sheriff Aligbeh and Esther Janssen from Culture Inc. After all, that is what happens in the Blue Deal: working together with all kinds of countries and different cultures. That means adjusting to each other from time to time. Is that bad? Aligbeh does not think so: “A chameleon also adapts its colors to the environment. But does it change its core?”

He explains how cultural differences can sometimes lead to difficult situations. He gives an example of a Dutch man who had to work with people he did not trust at all. They didn’t even look at him! Aligbeh explains: “That is the difference between an egalitarian culture, as in the Netherlands, and a hierarchical culture. These people showed him respect by not looking at him.”

A woman from Burkina Faso gives a tip: “We have made a kind of a cultural map with a comparison between the Dutch and the Burkinese. That makes life a lot easier for us, and for them. Because we now know how best to communicate with each other.”

Sheriff Aligbeh and Esther Janssen

What’s on the agenda for June 13?

After a successful day on June 12, there is also a lot on the program on June 13. On this day, the participants will split into smaller groups to follow workshops. With the topics: Water pricing, Water safety management, Stakeholder participation, Urban waste water management, Nature-based solutions, and Smart monitoring.

> Read about Day 2

> Read about Day 3

Blue Deal Congress starts Monday June 12

The Blue Deal Congress will take place in Amsterdam from 12 to 14 June. 14 countries will take part in this water congress. Afterwards the delegations will visit Dutch water projects in various provinces for 2 days. This way Dutch Water Authorities and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure and Water Management want to exchange knowledge within the international water sector.

A woman is standing next to a river, explaining something to 2 other people.

Improving access to clean, sufficient and safe water worldwide for 20 million people around the world in 2030. That is the ambitious goal of the Blue Deal, the international programme of the 21 Dutch water authorities and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure and Water Management. The Blue Deal started in 2018. The second phase will run from 2023 to 2030.

“The consequences of climate change are huge,” says Luzette Kroon, board member International Affairs at the Association of Dutch Water Authorities. “In recent decades, water-related disasters have increased. Hurricanes, downpours and rising sea levels lead to flooding. Droughts and water shortages undermine millions of families’ livelihoods and make some areas uninhabitable. This causes a great deal of damage and unrest, threatens peace and security and fuels migration. Water is therefore high on the international policy agenda.”

There is an increasing demand for knowledge and expertise in the field of water management. Kroon continues: “Dutch Water Authorities can offer that. But with the Blue Deal, the water authorities not only want to provide knowledge, but also collect it,” emphasizes Kroon. “It goes both ways. For example, we learn from the experiences with drought in countries such as Burkina Faso and South Africa. Other examples are the cooperation with stakeholders, but also switching to crops that require less water. That is relevant for the entire water sector.”

Achieve global goals

The Blue Deal programme contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Dutch water envoy Henk Ovink: “Water is our best chance for the future. Water’s power to change means that water has an impact on all SDGs. Water security can be felt in every vein of our society. And working on water literally brings together every voice and stakeholder, in every river basin, river course or region, across all borders and sectors. Water connects interests and cultures. Optimal water management is essential, and water managers must sit around the table. And that is the core of the Blue Deal Programme. The whole world working together for water, nothing less”.

“The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a proud partner of the Blue Deal,” says director René van Hell of the Ministry. “In the first phase of the Blue Deal, we strengthened and built up the partnerships in the then 16 partner countries together with Dutch Water Authorities. For phase 2, we want to deepen these partnerships by focusing on learning, climate adaptation and social inclusion.”

First Blue Deal Congress

Delegations from Argentina, Burkina Faso, Colombia, eSwatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Palestinian Territories, Peru, Romania, Vietnam, South Africa will attend the first Blue Deal Congress. The international partners will have the opportunity to get to know each other and the Dutch parties involved in the Blue Deal for 5 days. These days are all about meeting and exchanging knowledge.

On Monday, guests are welcomed in Amsterdam where they are introduced to Dutch water management. On Tuesday, the international delegations will stay in Amsterdam where they will exchange knowledge about common water challenges. Wednesday is dedicated to seeking knowledge in the field a number of excursions to Dutch water projects are organized here. On Thursday and Friday, the delegations will go into the provinces to visit one of the 21 partner water authorities.

Programme during the Congress

Monday 12 June

Welcome by the Head of Dutch Water Authorities (Luzette Kroon), an introductory session on Dutch Water governance and a session on intercultural cooperation. All international partners are kindly asked to introduce themselves and a meet & greet will be organized between the international delegations and the Dutch representatives within the Dutch Water Authorities. Followed by a boat trip on the river Amstel.

09.30h – 10.30h Walk in and registration, coffee with a Dutch pastry
10.30h – 12.30h Welcome and plenary morning on Dutch Water governance
12.30h – 13.30h Lunch, meet & greet with partners
13.30h – 15.30h Plenary session on intercultural communication
15.30h – 16.15h Plenary wrap-up of the day
16.15h – 17.45h Boat trip on river Amstel, with drinks

Tuesday 13 June

All participants are invited to contribute in technical sessions on common challenges in the water sector.

09.00h – 09.30h Plenary kick-off day 2
09.30h – 11.00h Round 1 – workshops
11.00h – 11.30h Break
11.30h – 13.00h Round 2 – workshops
13.00h – 14.15h Lunch break
14.15h – 15.30h Plenary wrap up of the sessions
15:30h Optional: ‘regional sessions’

Wednesday 14 June

On Wednesday, 3 excursions are offered.

9.00 Bus leaves for excursion 1
10.00h Buses leaves for excursion 2 and 3
10.00h – 16.00h Travel from/to location, guided tour, lunch
16.00h Back at hotel
16.00 – 17.00h Possibility to refresh before closing dinner and party
17.00h Evening: dinner and party at Waternet

What happened during the Congress?

Read what happened during Day 1 of the congress.

16 international delegations to visit first Blue Deal congress in June

Dutch Water Authorities will soon receive international visitors. From 12 to 16 June, 16 international delegations will participate in the first Blue Deal congress in Amsterdam. They also visit Dutch water projects and water authorities in various provinces.

The Blue Deal is the international programme of Dutch Water Authorities, together with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure and Water Management. For more than 6 years, we have been working in partnerships and exchanging knowledge with countries from all over the world. The goal: improving access to sufficient, clean and safe water for 20 million people all around the world.

Visitors from all over the world

Delegations from Argentina, Burkina Faso, Colombia, eSwatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Palestinian territories, Peru, Romania, Vietnam and South Africa will visit the first Blue Deal conference in Amsterdam. These international partners will have the opportunity to get to know each other and the Dutch parties involved in the Blue Deal for 5 days. The days are all about meeting and exchanging knowledge.

What will happen during the conference?

On 12 June, the guests will become acquainted with Dutch water management and, together with Dutch administrators, they will discuss the water problems that countries worldwide are experiencing, including the Netherlands. On June 13, participants will split into smaller sessions to delve deeper into specific topics, such as nature-based solutions and stakeholder participation. June 14 is all about seeking knowledge in practice: a number of excursions will be organized to locations where water solutions are visible in practice, such as the Sand Motor. On 15 and 16 June, the delegations will travel to the provinces to visit one of the 21 Dutch water authorities.

Yepper Gcinile Dlamini at UN Water Conference: “Support local teams”

Gcinile Dlamini is one of the Young Experts of the Blue Deal programme in Eswatini. She was part of the Blue Deal delegation that went to the UN Water Conference 2023 that took place from March 22 until March 24. “Sometimes it just takes one person taking responsibility, even if it is attending to minor issues. And when the next person is doing the same, then we can actually achieve something bigger.”

The conference was co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands. It was the first time in 46 years that the UN convened a Water Conference to raise attention to water. The Blue Deal went there with a delegation. Dlamini was invited to join, to be the voice of the youth for the Blue Deal.

What was it like to go to the UN Water Conference?

“The UN Water Conference really inspired me, it was amazing to be part of something that big. Usually, when we see problems around us that are as overwhelming as the water crisis, it’s easy to push the responsibility to take action and think: it’s not my job, it’s not my baby to care for. The problems we face with water every day, you think that as an individual there’s nothing you can do. But going to the conference… there was the urge and encouragement to do something. To think about: what can we do, how can we change the situation?”

“Sometimes it just takes one person taking responsibility, even if it is attending to minor issues. And when the next person is doing the same, then we can actually achieve something bigger. It doesn’t take rocket science to solve the issues in the water sector.”

What was most inspiring to you?

“The youth. They had fire, they want to be involved. They want to do the work. They are actually taking the initiative, they did not sit back and wait to be called to the table. It was amazing to see that. I’m not used to seeing young people do that. Because youth unemployment is so high in Eswatini, usually we just want to get a job and make a living. Things like water youth parliaments, we don’t have that in our country.”

What are you going to do with what you learned at the conference?

“I want to get together a group in my country in the water sector, a platform for the youth. I want people to talk about these issues, so they can be addressed.”
“And I also want to be the inspiration in my work team. I work for a government in a developing country. And there’s always lack of resources. So it’s easy to make an excuse, to not do anything. There’s always something missing to be efficient. But going to the UN motivated me. Sometimes we don’t have the resources, but we do make a difference.”
“When you think no one is supporting you, you lose the zeal to continue working. It is collaborations and partnerships, such as the one my country (the Joint River Basin Authorities-Project Board) has with the Blue Deal, that help us continue to carry out our mandate of managing water resources. During the UN Water Conference the Blue Deal team members made it their priority to ask for assistance and support for local water authorities. So we are not alone. I need to be the voice that reminds my work team that we are doing a great job and that we have the support we need to keep going.”

You also spoke as a panellist during one event. What was your message?

“I was a panellist during the event: ‘Forget about SDG6 without strong water management organizations’. This event was collaboratively organised by WaterWorX, German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), Blue Deal and UNGWOPA. My message was that if we don’t work on supporting local water authorities, then we won’t achieve the SDGs. We, as local teams, are the people who deal directly with water issues. If we are not strengthened, in terms of skills and finances, how are we going to achieve the goals? The focus has to start from the ground up. And then, maybe, there will be a difference.”

How was it for you personally to join the conference?

“It was a great opportunity for me. And I met so many interesting people that I want to keep sharing knowledge and ideas with. Speaking at the event really helped me with my confidence. It’s nice to be heard, even if maybe what you shared is not immediately addressed but it’s no longer on your shoulders alone. It makes everything better.”

“Everyone was popping with ideas. Everyone wanted to figure out how to address this water crisis. No one was sitting back and watching. It was amazing to have everyone stand up for water.”

UN Water Conference: Blue Deal on the map

From March 22 until March 24, the United Nations Water Conference was held in New York. Dutch Water Authorities (DWA) was present there, including board member Luzette Kroon of the Association of Dutch Water Authorities. We succeeded in getting the Blue Deal on the agenda of (potential) partners.

It was the first UN conference on water in nearly 50 years.

Water is a basic necessity of life

Kroon explains why the water authorities, in the form of DWA, were present at the conference: “The fact that the UN decided to organize a major conference on water, while that is not a UN treaty subject at all, is of great significance. This conference was really aimed at getting more (worldwide) action on water. Water managers play a crucial role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are the 17 goals of the United Nations to make the world a better place by 2030. And it’s not just about SDG6, which specifically focuses on water. Water is a basic necessity of life. It is necessary for people’s well-being, safe living, cooling during heat stress, industry and world food production. We will not achieve the SDGs without water managers.”

Worldwide too much, too little and too dirty water

“The conference has once again emphasized that the global challenges in the field of water are becoming bigger and more urgent,” says Piebe Hoeksma, international policy advisor at the Association of Dutch Water Authorities. “There is increasingly too much, too little and too dirty water in all parts of the world. Sometimes it concerns 1 of those 3, more often it is a combination. It is about subjects that are also relevant in the Netherlands and on which we must and can collaborate internationally.”

Back home with a positive feeling

The delegation returned to the Netherlands with a positive feeling. Hoeksma: “During the many discussions we explained our vision on local cooperation, operations & maintenance and governance. This fits in very well with how the challenges in water management are now viewed worldwide. Dutch Water Authorities was visible, among other things through the Blue Deal. We are now on the radar of a number of partners that are crucial to us.”

Invest in operations and maintenance

The Blue Deal is the international programme of the 21 Dutch water authorities together with the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure and Water Management. The programme consists of 17 long-term partnerships in 15 countries. “The conference was aimed at all of us doing more about water worldwide. We succeeded in doubling the Blue Deal’s financial contribution as part of the Water Action Agenda. This is an important step in increasing and accelerating our impact”, says programme manager Emilie Sturm.

She continues: “During a boat trip the Blue Deal organised on the Hudson River, with the Statue of Liberty in the background, we spoke, for example, with various financial players to draw attention to the importance of operations and maintenance. In addition to the construction of, for example, a treatment plant or dike, operatoins and maintenance are financed, but usually only for a short period. After that period, the investments sometimes fall into disrepair because operations and maintenance cease. We have follow-up agreements with 3 large financial institutions that want to invest more in operations and maintenance. It is great that we were able to inspire them to make even more impact with their organization in this way.”

Water Action Agenda

In short, the water conference made it clear that water is high on the global agenda and that many parties want to take action locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Stories were shared, inspiring opportunities discussed and commitments made to the Water Action Agenda.

(Photo: Luzette Kroon is pleading for more attention for operations and maintenance.)

Inaugural lecture on Dutch Water management

On October 3, 2022, Herman Havekes, employee of the Association of Dutch Water Authorities, gave his inaugural lecture as professor by special appointment at Utrecht University. Recently, it has been published in English, with the title: 'Successful Decentralisation: A critical review'. Interesting for everybody who wants to know more about Dutch water management.

During his inaugural lecture, Havekes discussed, among other things, criteria for a good organization of water management, its financing and the role of drinking water companies, water authorities, municipalities, provinces and the national government. He also mentioned that Dutch water management has been subjected to international scrutiny and received a positive assessment.

In the Netherlands, water management is 100 percent a public task. It is highly decentralized and that decentralized management has a solid financial basis. As a result, it can be executed swiftly. Havekes therefore argues that the decentralization of Dutch water management is successful. At the same time, he also indicated that there is, of course, still plenty of room for improvement.

> Read the whole lecture

Blue Deal present at UN Water Conference

From 22 to 24 March 2023, the United Nations Water Conference will take place in New York. Luzette Kroon, board member of the Association of Dutch Water Authorities, is there to represent Dutch Water Authorities and the Blue Deal, the international programme of Dutch Water Authorities.

The UN Water Conference is organized by the Netherlands and Tajikistan. It is the first United Nations conference on water in nearly 50 years. Kroon: “Many of the consequences of climate change have to do with water. It is too wet, too dry, the sea level is rising. The UN Conference is a key moment to reflect on the importance of water management worldwide.”

New York Water Week

In addition to the UN Water Conference, the Water Week will take place in New York from 18 to 24 March. This is an addition to the UN Water Conference.

Multiple sessions

Dutch Water Authorities and the Blue Deal organize various sessions during the UN Water Conference and the New York Water Week. Kroon: “During these sessions, we want to draw the attention of major financial players, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to the importance of management and maintenance. They mainly focus on investments, for example on the construction of a water treatment plant or a dike. The management and maintenance is financed, but only for a short period. After that period, the investments sometimes fall into disrepair because management and maintenance cease. We call that ‘design, build and neglect’. We would like to replace ‘neglect’ with ‘maintenance’. We want to get a place on the Water Action Agenda for this.”

Why a water conference?

Kroon: “Water managers play a crucial role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are the 17 goals of the United Nations to make the world a better place by 2030.” And it’s not just about SDG6, which is specifically aimed at water. Water also plays an important role in achieving the other SDGs. “Water is a basic necessity of life. It is necessary for people’s well-being, safe living, cooling during heat stress, industry and world food production. We will not achieve the SDGs without water managers.”

Dutch Water Authorities: why cooperate internationally?

Through international cooperation, the 21 water authorities in the Netherlands exchange valuable expertise on water management and tackling problems resulting from climate change. For example, about how other countries deal with drought, a problem that the Netherlands is increasingly confronted with. Or how experiences of foreign partners with extreme rainfall can be applied to Dutch water management. Cooperation with water management organizations in other countries leads to a mutual exchange of valuable new ideas.

Blue Deal as an example

Kroon: “It is the intention that parties from all sectors pledge actions for the Water Action Agenda to contribute to the SDGs. We have already made a commitment for this action agenda in June 2022, namely doubling the money for the Blue Deal. We want to put the Blue Deal in the spotlight during the conference. As an example for world leaders and other organisations of a successful collaboration to spread water knowledge.”

3 countries meet for regional knowledge exchange

The water challenges in Southern Africa are immense. Floodings, droughts; water and climate related disasters always seem to be just around the corner. On November 25, the Blue Deal partnerships of eSwatini, Mozambique and South Africa joined forces in the first joint regional Blue Deal exchange meeting in Johannesburg. Here they discussed the issues regarding data management of water data.

Similar challenges

The 3 countries face similar challenges: how to ensure financial stability? How can data sharing within and between countries be improved? And many technical hurdles, for example how to integrate the now often still separate data systems? As Ntombikayise Dhladhla, participant of the Blue Deal Young Expert Programme, explained: “In eSwatini, the main issues are reliability of the data, which leads to limited data sharing. We are working in silos.”

Lessons learnt

During the day the Blue Deal teams of the 3 countries looked back on Phase 1 of the Blue Deal. Experiences and lessons learnt were shared. Looking to the future, people shared their ideas on which topics the partnerships can work together. Ideas included working together on a central database, organizing shared lab facilities and connecting existing databases.

Different perspectives

Ambassador Han Peters mentioned the importance of long-term equal partnerships, which are the basis for the Blue Deal: “No one country can solve the problems of today on their own. You need different perspectives, you need people from different backgrounds if you want to get to the greatest solutions.” And with this first regional meeting of 3 Blue Deal partnerships, a strong start has been made.