Nov 23, 2020

Collaboration and partnership – only together can we deliver our promise

In this short interview two of World Water Week’s partners – Kim Nøhr Skibsted, Executive Director of Grundfos Foundation, and Henk Ovink, Special Envoy on Water, Government of the Netherlands – reflect on the upcoming World Water Week theme, the importance of collaboration, and how this World Water Week has the potential to be the best one yet.

The Government of the Netherlands takes water seriously. Its deep experience and commitment are reflected in its cross-ministry Water Ambition 2030 – supported by Special Envoy on International Water Affairs, Henk Ovink. The Government of the Netherlands has been an official World Water Week partner since 2019.

Henk Ovink is also a member of the Scientific Programme Committee, the group responsible for the thematic scope of the year. As the content curation process for next year’s World Water Week is set to begin, he shares his main takeaways from the 2021 theme, Building Resilience Faster:

“The theme puts the water sector in the middle of global challenges – and (explains) why it is important to have water, and the water sector there. It says a couple of things: Water is at the core of breaking things apart. It is also at the core of bringing everyone together – inclusion, integration, better governance, transboundary. But also, bringing everything together – across SDGs, including mitigation, and adaption. It puts World Water Week at the centre of the global debate. It means there is a high vision!,” Henk Ovink says.

“World Water Week 2021 should not be about the water community, it should be about the global community that is connected to the water community. The theme itself has this ambition. I think that is amazing.”

The Grundfos Foundation, established in 1975, supports initiatives linked to water, research, and inclusion. They became an official partner to World Water Week in 2020. Like Henk, Kim Nøhr Skibsted emphasizes the importance of including the water perspective in debates about many of the world’s leading challenges – something World Water Week and Grundfos will focus more on via the partnership on the Communications Initiative.

“If we come together – different foundations, NGOs, corporates, governments – the more the merrier – we can make things happen,” Kim Nøhr Skibsted says. “I have seen in my work with the Grundfos Foundation and also Grundfos that if we come together with those we don’t necessarily talk to so much – maybe some are working on health, sanitation, children’s rights, whatever it is – we come together on the things we have in common, and that is almost always (at least) safe access to clean water. It is basic in life. If it is not there, nothing is there. New jobs, economic growth – water is essential for all aspects. And we can see that climate change is affecting access to clean and safe water. No question.”

“On larger challenges, sometimes we only look at our little corner of the issue, but collaborating helps to put the pieces together – it can help you see the bigger picture, and when you have that, you will know where to begin.”

So how do we get there? And how can World Water Week help?

Kim emphasized the importance of both individual commitments and collective action: “We need everyone to do their best and we need to link together. SIWI can help bring forward the knowledge and find new ways to collaborate.”

Henk called for the water community to become a catalyst for engagement – specifically, with those beyond the water world: (UN Secretary-General) “António Guterres says it best: ´this is a time for science and solidarity´. The interpretation of that is that (only) with our best knowledge and capacity, technology, policy, and finance, and with real inclusion, leaving no one behind, can we deliver our promise,” Henk said, adding:

“To not only be the broker towards better sustainable, more resilient solutions, but also the partner and problem solver, then outreach to financial, and other sectors, governments of all kinds, better be good. So, I really hope to see in this community around World Water Week be a real representation of the world, not of the water world.

If the water community, as a catalyst for the engagement, can show that we are a catalyst, World Water Week Week 2021 can be the best Week ever.”

Are you interested in partnering with us to help communicate water’s bigger picture to the world? SIWI is looking for additional partners to help us realize this vision. To learn more, contact Senior Manager, Partnerships & External Relations,