22 March - Water Debate

Debate World Waterday 2024


The societal challenges are significant: international tensions, conflicts, wars, the growing gap between rich and poor, refugee flows, migration pressures, biodiversity, climate change, etc. These challenges not only affect our lives in the Netherlands but also those of billions of people in developing countries. They are often disproportionately affected and moreover, they have fewer resources to address the problems.

Seventy-five years ago, the Netherlands began development cooperation to show solidarity with countries that were less fortunate, to combat poverty, and to enable progress. Was it meaningful, effective, humane, ethical? Or should we stop, as a small country, we don't make much of a dent in the known pack of butter? What needs to change, and how can it be improved? The future of International Cooperation and the role of Development Cooperation (DC) require reflection and contemplation.

Chair: Esmee Lodder

Debate Leader: Marene Elgershuizen

Introduction WASH timeline: Sjef Ernes

Introduction themes: Henk Holtslag, Lisa Wijkel , Maarten Blokland

Theme 1: More or less OS

Historically, the Netherlands has been an important donor and has acquired a valued position on the international playing field of development cooperation. However, the trend is that the available budget for regular development assistance is decreasing due to cutbacks and also because more funds are being siphoned off for emergency aid, peace missions, climate financing, refugee deals and care for asylum seekers. Given the decreasing funds, Dutch international influence and reputation in directing development cooperation is also declining.

Theme 2: Narrow or Broad based OS policy

Sustainable growth and effective poverty reduction policy in poorer countries demand coherent policies in donorcountries that transcend development cooperation, and also comprise national policies in for example tax incentives and climate. Developing countries forgo tax revenues because The Netherlands is not doing enough to avoid tax evasion by large corporations. Likewise, they suffer from the negative impact of climate change because Dutch parties continue investing in the fossil fuel industry and benefit from fossil fuel subsidies.

Theme 3: Yes or No to Privately Financed Water Investments

Access to drinking water and sanitary facilities was and is often a public task. This concerns both business operations and investments. However, to achieve SDG6, public financing is not sufficient, and money from private sources is therefore needed. Private financiers, such as pension funds, are only willing to participate under strict conditions, because otherwise the risk of not being able to serve their own target group, the pensioners in this case, is too great. These conditionalities limit the flexibility of the governors and managers of the water providers.