Leveraging the Past for Better Futures


  • Henk Ovink Government of The Netherlands - Special Envoy for Water





In 1977 the first UN Conference on Water took place in Mar del Plata, Argentina. We were already aware of the need for water security for all, yet unable to figure out how to get there. The effects of pollution and emissions on climate and the interlinkages with water were not left undiscussed. We also discussed the need for action on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and more. But there was no clear follow up, no roadmap nor institutional capacity, let alone political or societal ownership. Water, always perceived as a sector, continues to be perceived as a sector. A sector to call on when the pipes fail to function or when water floods our communities or is absent or too polluted to use. That perspective is not only unrealistic, but has led to the abuse of this vital yet scarce resource. The mismanagement and undervaluing of water has helped damage the hydrological cycle, undermining everything we value and want to achieve.

How to Cite

Ovink, H. (2022). Leveraging the Past for Better Futures. Blue Papers, 1(1), 4–5. https://doi.org/10.58981/bluepapers.2022.1.pref



Author Biography

Henk Ovink, Government of The Netherlands - Special Envoy for Water

The Water Envoy is appointed by the Dutch Cabinet and reports directly to the ministers. In his role as thematic ambassador, the Water Envoy strengthens the Dutch international water ambition at home and abroad for the entire sector and, on behalf of and for, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Infrastructure and Water Management, Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, and Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.