Toespraak van minister Harbers bij graduation ceremony van opleidingsinstituut IHE Delft


Toespraak van minister Harbers (IenW) op 11 oktober 2023 in Delft bij de graduation ceremony van opleidingsinstituut IHE Delft. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Verantwoordelijke Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Waterstaat
Thema Water
Documentsoort Toespraak
Publicatiedatum 11-10-2023
Documentdatum 11-10-2023

Good afternoon everyone: family, friends, staff of IHE Delft, and of course the graduates. This is a very special occasion for you all!

After a year of hard work, your families will – I’m sure – be happy to see you come home again.  And your teachers will be sad and proud to see you go. 

In this past year, you’ve learned a lot of new things, made new friends and perhaps cultivated new ambitions too. You are the class of 2023 … a group of young people from 46 different countries. 
With different cultures, backgrounds, languages.

You’ve studied together, lived together, eaten together, inspired each other. And hopefully partied together..  

Now it’s time to go your separate ways again. To spread your wings and go out into the world. 

And that world needs you more than ever.  It needs your ideas and your determination to treat water better. I found it heartening to read your motivations. 

Tewabe Kebede Ayalew from Ethiopia, for instance, looking at the rapid population growth and economic development in his country, saw a huge water challenge. He wrote: ‘I will work to develop an optimisation strategy for sustainable use of the water resources my country has.’

Juan Felipe Hernandez Arredondo from Colombia wants to have a positive impact on the management of the water supply and sanitation, not only in Colombia, but in whole of Latin America!  That’s the spirit! 

Or take Salma Enan from Egypt. She wants to tackle the lack of awareness of the value of water in Egyptian communities. That’s why Salma wants to take part in important strategic decisions related to water management and governance in her country. 

These are all great ambitions. I'm sorry I can't reflect on the other 113 motivations ... But they all matter just as much!

The world is crying out for new water managers and water leaders. Professionals with technical knowledge as well as soft skills, like getting people to support their ideas, setting up a water programme, taking an integrated approach to water issues, being a leader. 

Because water is not a single issue. Taking a better approach to water will also result in better public health, greater food security, more liveable cities, more resilient industry and more sustainable economic growth.

In other words: water is crucial for life. Fortunately, water as a cross-cutting issue is receiving more attention worldwide. 

A good example of this was the UN Water Conference, held in March this year. It was only the second UN conference on water in almost 50 years! And the Netherlands was very proud to co-host it. I know some of you were there. Alongside nearly ten thousand other participants. 

I can still feel the positive energy that was generated. The conference delivered concrete results in the form of the Water Action Agenda, with more than 800 commitments of different types and magnitudes. Together, they are a promising and concrete agenda that will drive our efforts in the years ahead. 

It’s not only the number of commitments that impresses me, but also their diversity. We’re talking about commitments pledged by a wide range of actors – governments, NGOs, companies and universities – in a wide range of areas, like agriculture, health, climate change, industry, households. 

This proves that water is not a single issue. Water is a connector, linking many sectors and all aspects of life. 

The world has reached a turning point. The UN Water Conference laid solid foundations for a substantial change in the way we understand, value and manage water. We need this change more than ever. It’s clear from the SDG 6 Synthesis Report that a business as usual approach will not be sufficient to achieve the global goals by 2030. 

So, I was very happy to hear that the UN will be holding two more Water Conferences. The first one will be in 2026. 

The main thing now is to translate all the commitments and ambitions into concrete actions.  And that’s where you come in. As a graduate of the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, you’re very well qualified to make a valuable contribution to this effort. 

I’m proud that we have such a renowned institute in the Netherlands.  Some 23,000 graduates have gone before you. 

A huge alumni network. A worldwide water community. It’s interesting to see what they’re doing now. 

Jagadishwar Barun from Nepal, for instance, is currently working as a water, sanitation and hygiene specialist in Ukraine. Ensuring that displaced people have access to safe water services. 

Pablo Bereciartua from Argentina was appointed Chair of the Global Water Partnership, a worldwide action network in 179 countries. 

And Joy Riungu from Kenya established the Sanitation Research Institute at Meru University of Science and Technology, and serves as its director. 

After this ceremony, you will also be part of this alumni network. Ready to add your own stories to it. Ready to put water at the centre of our decision-making, for a safer, healthier and more prosperous world. 

I hope to hear a lot more from you, and I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavours! 

Finally, I would like to thank everyone at IHE Delft. 

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has been working together with this outstanding educational institution for 20 years now. And today we’re renewing our cooperation for another 6 years. It has grown into a partnership of equals. We’re true partners in strengthening international knowledge about water management, in the broadest sense. 

I’m very happy with our cooperation and we’re looking forward to the next s 6 years. It gives me great pleasure to sign our new MoU.

Thank you!