Welkomstwoord van de Prins van Oranje aan de deelnemers van de International Water Week in Amsterdam, 2 november 2011

De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the world of water,

It's both an honour and a pleasure to be speaking to you this evening in this wonderful concert hall. The Muziekgebouw is a real work of art, in terms of both design and construction. Inside you can delight in the colours and the music. Outside you are surrounded on three sides by water. And beneath your feet is a fascinating history - of ice ages, water pockets and rising and falling sea levels. We could not wish for a better place for an inspiring discussion on the subject of water.

I am very proud that this week Amsterdam is at the centre of the international water management world. The Netherlands has quite a reputation in this field. And it has serious ambitions, too.

The Dutch water sector has the crucial know-how to find solutions to the world's water problems.

The Netherlands wants to be an international centre of excellence on water issues. Hence this first International Water Week here in Amsterdam.

The challenges facing the water sector are immense. Despite all our efforts millions, or rather billions, of people have no access to clean drinking water or proper sanitation. And a growing world population, a changing climate and a financial crisis are not making matters any easier.

We have to be very ambitious to meet these challenges in this rapidly changing world. We cannot simply carry on as usual. Reaching the "unserved" must be a core component of your activities.

We should have the same ambition at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro next year. The aim of Rio +20 is to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development. We will also be assessing progress to date and addressing major issues like green growth, energy access, food security, sustainable cities and disaster preparedness.

As chair of the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, I shall continue to stress the role of water as a critical factor in sustainable development. It is also crucial for every country to set clear objectives for drinking water and sanitation, pollution control and waste-water management, and for increasing water productivity in agriculture.

But tonight you are in Amsterdam. International Water Week brings together entrepreneurs, scientists and representatives of not-for-profit organisations and government agencies. This week, you will have a unique opportunity to share experiences, seek new partners and develop ideas together. Integrated solutions, sustainable development and a better future: that's what we're looking for. And as experts on water, you play a central role.

I hope you enjoy your evening. And above all, I wish you a very successful week here in Amsterdam.

Thank you.