Toespraak van de Prins van Oranje tijdens de High-Level African Dialogue on the Water-Food-Energy Nexus in Nairobi

29 november 2012

De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, friends,

First I would like to thank the Kenian government again for hosting this 19th UNSGAB meeting.

We have all chosen to spend our day together. For the next eight hours we will explore how to advance an idea. An idea whose time has come. The water, food and energy nexus is an idea which is starting to gain traction and this is encouraging. But to really make a change, all of us who care about the future of the planet and its passengers must commit to promote, advance and give meaning to the water, food and energy nexus.

I would like to welcome everyone to Nairobi, some have travelled great distances and others are close to home. I'm especially pleased to be joined by AMCOW President, Dr. Mohamed Bahaa El-Din, the Egyptian Minister for Water Resources and Irrigation. AMCOW is such an important organization and its members are exactly the type of people who can carry the nexus idea forward. Thank you for being with us. Our discussion will be moderated by my Vice-chair, Ms. Uschi Eid. Uschi is continually motivated by her deep commitment to sanitation and water issues. She is the recipient of many awards and the demands on her time are unending. The fact that Uschi devoting her time to the water, food and energy nexus proves that this is a valuable effort!  

On Tuesday, when we opened our Board meeting, I made the point that with more than seven billion people on the planet, it is our responsibility to find how to meet our needs more efficiently. We are bumping up against natural resource limits. This isn't about politics or ideology. It is about the planet we are going to leave behind. Simply put, we must change the way we live. In Europe. In Asia. On this continent and all over the world. A nexus approach will help us make this change. How? By identifying cross-sectoral impacts and trade-offs so that more efficient solutions can be pursued. Think of Biofuels. Using corn and sugarcane for fuel is offered as an energy solution. This makes sense on the surface and in many parts of the world this path is being aggressively pursued. But what do biofuels mean for food security? And what about demands on water supply especially in places that are already water scarce. 

Another example is wastewater management which I have described as a quintessential nexus challenge. After treatment, urban wastewater can be reused for peri-urban agriculture. We know that in many parts of the world, wastewater is already used for agriculture, this practice should be encouraged, but it must be done safely, for food security. Energy can be recaptured from wastewater - in fact according to a recent studies, on average wastewater contains7.6 kilojoules per litre which is 20% higher than previously estimated. Our Board is not suggesting massive trunk and branch wastewater systems that are prohibitively expensive and prone to failure. Instead, we need a wastewater revolution, which promotes innovation, smaller modular systems, that capture energy and clean water for the next appropriate use. 

A nexus approach would mean that decision makers considering biofuels or wastewater management would explore trade-offs before making major investments. And in the process helping policy makers achieve greater policy coherence. This is needed. We must build development pathways which are resource efficient, equitable and sustainable. All levels of governance from the local to the international can use a nexus approach to ensure a sustainable future.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

When the question "what drives change" is posed to experts the most common response is ideas.  Ideas drive change. Of course money and technology are also important and we could have a long debate about which element is most crucial. Right now, I would argue we have a deeply important idea in our hands - the water, food and energy nexus. We need a cultural change which embraces the nexus. Why is it so difficult? It is simply human nature to feel comfortable with those who share your values. Colleagues who speak your language. Others who understand your objectives.  Working across sectors is messy and time consuming and often frustrating. But it is necessary that we work towards cultural change because if we don't, we might see an occasional success here and there, but permanent change will not happen. 

After today, we should all be emissaries for the nexus idea - it is taking hold one meeting at a time. Through international commitments, websites, elections and municipal policies. We must commit to taking it forward in our varied occupations. Thank you for being with us today and I look forward to our discussions.