Ladies and gentlemen, dear water friends,
It’s a strange experience to speak to you all through a video message. The reason we do it is even more strange: all around the world people are struggling with an unexpected and unprecedented disaster, killing hundreds of thousands of people and jeopardising our global economy.
In our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic it’s essential that we recover stronger, we recover better and we recover together, like the theme of this summit.
And therefore, related to water resilience, I have two key messages.
In the first place: we must strive together to ensure that the trillions of dollars of recovery money that are spent in the coming period, are spent well. My second message is that the Water Action Track of the Global Commission on Adaptation can help us reach this goal.
Let me explain myself in a few more minutes.
The COVID-19 pandemic is of unprecedented magnitude. Governments at all levels, multi-lateral development banks, profit and non-profit organisations are making extra money available. In the first place to save lives and protect people against the virus. But also to support employment, transport and education, to avoid all kinds of businesses to collapse.
In spending that enormous amount of recovery money we have the choice between spending it well and prepare our societies for a more resilient future, or waste it on short term quick wins.
The Global Commission on Adaptation, led by Ban Ki-Moon, Bill Gates and Kristalina Georgieva, has initiated the Water Action Track. It is collaborating with key stakeholders to make recovery projects sustainable, inclusive and more adaptive to climate change.
My concrete suggestion is to create international teams with experts from the South and the North who can collaborate with governments to assess investments on their ability to contribute to sustainable development.
This is already practice in Vietnam. There, on request of the World Bank, an international team of experts provides input to make projects more resilient. Let’s replicate that collaborative way of working and make it a common practice worldwide. Let’s step up and make money and organising power available!
Ladies and gentlemen,
Water is an essential element in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Washing our hands with water and soap is a first line of defence. To help trigger the systemic change, the Netherlands will be hosting the first ever global summit of world leaders entirely focused on climate change adaptation. It will be held on January 25th, 2021.
The summit will be a state of the art, climate neutral, virtual conference, streamed worldwide over 24 hours with anchoring events from capitals around the world. With this online conference, we will join forces worldwide to offer hope, energy and real solutions.
Let’s ensure that our recovery from the COVID crisis is a resilient one!