Openingsspeech van staatssecretaris at the High Level Round Table on Multi Level Action on Urban Water COP28 Resilience “Cities as hubs of climate adaptation”, COP28 – Dubai – 6 December 2023 15.30u

Toespraak van staatssecretaris Heijnen (IenW) bij de 'High Level Round Table on Multi Level Action on Urban Water Resilience ‘Cities as hubs of climate adaptation' op de COP28. Dit evenement vond plaats op 6 december 2023 in Dubai. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Esteemed guests, dear colleagues,

Some facts and figures:

Nearly 60 percent of the world’s population is living in dense urban areas. 80 percent of the world's major urban areas are in coastal or delta regions. 90 percent of the effects of Climate change is water related. Either too much, too little or polluted water.

1 of the outcomes of the UN Water Conference earlier this year was the Water Action Agenda. An agenda that focusses on implementation and action. An agenda with the aim of realising a systematic and integrated approach of water. That is why we are here today.

So, dear water friends: welcome at this high level round table!  We all face the effects of climate change. Here in Dubai, in Rwanda, South Africa, Singapore, The Netherlands.

Let me get straight to the point: nearly all mega cities around the world have been facing increasing water scarcity over the last decade. And this challenge will not disappear by itself. It will get worse.

Cities worldwide are underprepared to deal with this new reality, as their watersystems are designed for yesterday’s climate.  If we want to upgrade our water solutions, we need to entwine our international agenda with national, regional and local goals. 

Our international cooperation should be as obviously as the fact that climate change is a global phenomenon. Yes, this is a massive platitude. But it is also the consequence of the slow pace at which we translate words into action.

And here is why I am still hopeful: serious changes require a long run-up. We are on our way. We share knowledge, we help each other. And as a result local initiatives are piling up. 

Coping the effects of climate change is not easy. It is hard. And therefore I think we can do it! We are here today at this round table to set up a multi-level action dialogue. We have the right setting and the right line up, with mayors and ministers to make impact.

So, let’s get to work!

Thank you.