Ahead of a decisive year for water, the Government of the Netherlands and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) have signed a new four million Euro agreement for 2022-2026. Together the partners will push for stronger international commitment to water issues.
The Government of the Netherlands and SIWI have a long history of collaboration, joining forces to influence the international agenda as well as to support regional, basin, and national actors addressing key water-related challenges. The partners strive to build a stronger international commitment to water through improving global engagement, coordination, and integrated policy development.
Specifically, the partnership covers five areas of fundamental importance:
- International policy. Water is crucial to achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals. The Government of the Netherlands and SIWI often join forces to elevate the role of water in for example the global climate talks and the 2030 Agenda. They also form a strong partnership ahead of the United Nations 2023 Water Conference.
- World Water Week. The world needs more collaboration and coordination of different international processes. As the leading conference on global water issues, the SIWI-led World Water Week is an increasingly important arena for this.
- Water diplomacy is an important tool to reduce conflicts and tension. The Government of the Netherlands supports SIWI’s work among basin actors in some of the world’s most conflict-affected regions.
- Water as a catalyst for peace. Transboundary water cooperation is a crucial catalyst for peace and development. The SIWI-led International Centre for Water Cooperation (ICWC) generates knowledge and contributes to concrete solutions.
- Source-to-sea management. SIWI and the Government of the Netherlands are leading champions of source-to-sea management which is crucial to restoring ocean health and tackling poverty. The approach was met with great interest at the recent United Nations Oceans Conference.
Both the Government of the Netherlands and SIWI identify improved water governance as the key to progress on all the Sustainable Development Goals
René van Hell, Director of Inclusive Green Growth at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Netherlands said: “Partnering with SIWI is a no-brainer. SDG 6 is a crucial enabler for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but the latest UN progress report shows that we are not on a trajectory to meet the 2030 targets and that the situation will likely worsen. We are therefore seeking partnerships with organizations like SIWI that are effective and have a track record.”
Both the Government of the Netherlands and SIWI identify improved water governance as the key to progress on all the Sustainable Development Goals. SIWI works as an advisor to governments and international organizations on good water governance practices – from sanitation and water resources management to water diplomacy.
Karin Gardes, Chief Operating Officer at SIWI, is delighted that the partnership with the Government of the Netherlands is entering into a second phase: “SIWI and the Government of the Netherlands will continue to demonstrate the important role of water in achieving the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable development. As two international actors known for strong commitment, knowledge, and work on sustainable water development, we will make sure that the voice of water is heard loud and clear,” she says.
This will be especially important in the coming year, according to René van Hell from the Government of the Netherlands. He points to several worrying trends, including increasingly fragmented governance, shrinking space for civil society in many countries, and a lack of progress on many of the Sustainable Development Goals that should be achieved by 2030. SIWI is seen as an important partner to set the world on a more positive course.
“What I see SIWI doing is to develop and advance governance – tools, methodologies, and knowledge – at local, regional, and international levels. You are an effective convenor and facilitator of stakeholder dialogues that can attract not only decision-makers but the private sector, finance, and NGOs. Both the Government of the Netherlands and SIWI are working on capacity-development and to place water high on the international agenda,” René van Hell says.
Karin Gardes, Chief Operating Officer at SIWI, said: “As two international actors known for strong commitment, knowledge, and work on sustainable water development, we will make sure that the voice of water is heard loud and clear.”
Next year is considered a genuine watershed moment because the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of Tajikistan will co-host the first United Nations Conference on water since 1977. The conference is an opportunity to share ideas and best practices on how to value and manage water better and take action to achieve SDG 6 and other water-related goals. Since water is essential to everyone and everything, it will be an important task for the co-hosts and partner organizations such as SIWI to bring parties together and make the conference as inclusive and cross-sectoral as possible.
“We really appreciate the emphasis placed by the Government of the Netherlands on inclusion. With growing water scarcity, competition over water resources looks set to grow, exacerbating existing inequalities. It is therefore of fundamental importance that water policy includes gender and youth perspectives, as well as Indigenous knowledge,” says Karin Gardes from SIWI.