Toespraak van minister Harbers bij lancering International Panel on Deltas and Coastal Areas

Toespraak van minister Harbers (IenW)  bij de lancering van het International Panel on Deltas and Coastal Areas op 23 maart 2023. Deze vond plaats bij de UN Headquarters van de United Nations (UN) in New York. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Colleagues, IPDC members, champions!

Welcome to the official launch of the International Panel on Deltas and Coastal Areas, also known as the Champions Group. As the panel’s initiator, I’m delighted to be here for the official kick-off, together with so many other participants. 

A small group of forerunners first announced the panel at COP27 in Egypt. And more and more parties have since joined us. That says a lot about the wish for cooperation on water management and adaptation. I’d like to extend a special welcome to: 

  • the ministers of Vietnam, Singapore, Colombia, India, Egypt and Bangladesh;
  • the representatives of islands, including those in the Local2030 Islands Network, Curaçao, Aruba, St Maarten, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba; 
  • and experts from financial institutions, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). 

A strong and broad group of leaders who, from today, will be working on a climate-proof future for our world and for humanity.  And, there are still more countries considering participation like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Indonesia, Argentina and Fiji. I hope to welcome them soon!

Like everyone here, I feel a sense of urgency. The clock is ticking. All countries – including island states – are noticing the effects of climate change.  Drought, flooding, extreme rainfall, storms and sea-level rise threaten traditional types of farming, drinking water supplies, urbanisation, nature conversation and biodiversity. And it’s even worse for deltas, coastal areas and islands. Deltas are densely populated, low-lying areas of high economic value. 

Right now, there are 800 million people living in delta regions and that figure is set to grow by 50 per cent by 2050. 1 in  4 people worldwide live in areas at risk of flooding.

Our small islands are confronted with tremendous challenges, like drought, freshwater shortages, flooding, storms and coastal erosion. With serious consequences for people, the economy and nature. Especially here, in these vulnerable areas, it’s crucial to take action. 

Leaning in by adapting our spatial planning. By taking more account of the available water supply in dry areas – and discouraging water-thirsty industries. And making sure hotel resorts aren’t built in areas prone to flooding.

Leaning in also means paying more attention to freshwater storage and building up reserves rather than draining water as quickly as possible. These are just a few examples.

Business as usual simply isn’t enough. We need to aim higher. That’s made clear in a new and alarming report by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency entitled ‘Future Water Challenges 2’. I’ll give you a copy later. 

The report not only sounds the alarm but also provides insight into opportunities and starting points for making ourselves more resilient. And that’s exactly why we’re here. Because no country or island can do this alone. And they don’t need to, either. We can learn from each other, strengthen each other and share knowledge, solutions and financing with each other. That’s what the IPDC is all about. From Shared Global Knowledge to Local Action!   

How will the IPDC make a difference? 

Policy, research and implementation go hand in hand. Spatial planning is based on science. Political commitment ensures consistent policy. All three domains are anchored in the IPDC.  We’re focusing on the medium term, between 5 and 30 years from now. A period that we can influence through the decisions we make now.

Our work is demand-driven. Participating countries can request tailormade advice. In fact, the first requests are already in.

More insight into the IPDC’s specific outputs will be given in a deep-dive session at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning at Water House. I would be honoured if you’d join us. 

The most important output is of course the commitment of this Champions Group. A commitment not only to take climate adaptation action, but also to be role models for other countries and islands and inspire them to join the effort. 
Our work is founded on 3 basic principles:

  • More knowledge: that’s why we’re specifically involving scientific leads from all the countries taking part. 
  • A tailored and structured approach: that’s why we’re involving the national coordinators of the National Adaptation Plans.
  • And feasible plans: that’s why powerful financial institutions are on board. I’m most grateful to the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Green Climate Fund for joining us in the IPDC.


it’s time to get down to business. We’ll present the IPDC’s first results at the IPDC Conference in the Netherlands in March next year. A conference we’ll be holding every 2 years.

The IPDC will remain open to other countries. So I urgently call on them to join us. 

Ultimately, we’re doing this for humanity: our future is at stake. Let’s put our shoulders to that together!

I’m now going to show you a short video to officially launch the IPDC. Thanks to Deltares for making it. Together with the Global Center on Adaptation, Deltares plays a vital role for the Netherlands in the IPDC. I’m proud of that and know for sure that it’s in good hands.

I’d like to thank all those involved for their efforts and commitment. And those who’ve helped us get this far. It now gives me great pleasure to launch the video and, with it, the IPDC.   Thank you!

Deel II: Korte presentatie van het Rapport ‘Global Future Water Challenges II’

Of course, I didn’t come here today empty-handed. As I mentioned earlier, PBL has presented an interesting study into effective water management and climate adaptation.

With useful guidelines and recommendations that we can all apply to turn the tide. 

So on behalf of PBL and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, it’s a pleasure to offer you the new report ‘Global Future Water Challenges: Bending the Trend’.

I’d like to invite all ministers and representatives of the Champions countries to come forward to collect a copy and join together for a photo.