Openingstoespraak van de Prins van Oranje bij de Multi Stakeholder Dialogue in the post-2015 agenda in het Vredespaleis

21 maart 2013

De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

It is my honour to welcome you to The Hague!

Tomorrow, the United Nations will be celebrating World Water Day globally. And this year, the focal point will be here in The Hague.  The UN capital of global peace and justice.

We wanted our celebrations tomorrow to be more than just celebrations. That is why we have added todays Wings for Water dialogues to our programme. To provide valuable input. And to actually take us a step further on our long journey towards a better world.

The theme for this year's gathering is 'international water cooperation'. A theme that runs through the veins of my country. Because water cooperation is as old as our country itself. In fact, it is key to the very existence of this nation.

Long before there was a Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Dutch organized themselves to live safely in our fertile river delta. Behind dikes and dams. They did so in the late middle ages, by forming so called water boards. This form of government exists in our country to this day.

As your host country and as a country that lives and works with water every day, the Netherlands is happy to share its knowledge with the world. And to learn from others as well. We know from experience that you always need others to help you thrive and survive. In this context, we hope to see you again in November for International Water Week Amsterdam.

We cherish our relationship with water. Even though it means we have to stand on guard every day. But there is no other option, because this is where we live. Almost one-third of our country lies below sea level. Almost two-thirds are vulnerable to flooding. These are the very areas where the majority of our populations lives and works. This is where most of our GDP is generated.

But of course our symbiosis with water is not exclusive. Water related issues are global. Because water is life. Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation are prerequisites for health, dignity and development. Nations and cities increasingly will have to learn how to live with water, as it is essential for economic growth. And for safeguarding our future food and energy. And all this in an increasingly complex planet. With a growing world population and a changing climate. In ten years time, half the world 's population will live in areas prone to flooding.

We need to use our water efficiently and wisely, through integrated water resources management. We also need a revolution in how we deal with wastewater: preventing pollution and increasing waste water management and reuse. And, crucially, we have to work unabated towards universal access to sustainable sanitation and to drinking water that is really safe.

I will speak in much greater detail about these issues tomorrow. But for now, the point to emphasize is that these issues can only be dealt with effectively through cooperation. International cooperation between countries. But also between cities. Between different sectors. Governments, companies, scientists and citizens should join forces, share their knowledge and channel their efforts.

This is why you are here today. If we do just that, this will provide the world with a true and meaningful wake up call for water. A wake up call that is truly essential for the world we want.

The world is waiting for your call…!