Netherlands to join hands with India on global water pact

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The Hague: The Netherlands is keen to work closely with India, taking inputs from the Narendra Modi administration’s ‘access to drinking water for all programme (Jal Jeevan Mission) for a ‘global water pact’ to be discussed at the UN water conference next March, said Henk Ovink, Netherlands’ special envoy for international water affairs.

Ovink said, in an interview at his office in The Hague, that Netherlands’ partnership with India for climate change mitigation and adaptation would bring together innovative solutions developed in the Netherlands and India’s experience in ensuring access to water, sanitation and hygiene to a large number of people, for implementation around the world.

“India and the Netherlands are amazing partners in demonstrating what works, showing the commitment behind what works and in the opportunity to scale that up and put that on the UN agenda as a ‘global water pact,’” said Ovink. He said that all such initiatives from around the world such as India’s Jal Jeevan Mission and the commitments of national governments would make up the global action agenda on water. He said the three-day UN conference starting 22 March 2023 would be one of action agenda, rather than just calling for action. The conference will be co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands.

India’s Jal Jeevan Mission aims to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections by 2024 to all households in rural India. The scheme also entails measures such as water conservation and rain water harvesting. As per data available from the Jal Shakti ministry, nearly half of the 193 million Indian rural households to be covered under the scheme had access to tap drinking water as of 29 March.

“In partnership, we can see how we can scale innovative solutions across the world. This is at the heart of a lot of what we do together, said Ovink. He said that the Indian government’s focus on water security is of critical importance in the context of the covid pandemic.

“We are coming after two years of the pandemic and we know how important is water for hygiene. We say ‘wash your hands,’ but if there is no water, there is no hand washing. Your government has a big focus on issues of water, sanitation and hygiene, which are of critical importance in the context of the pandemic,” said Ovink.

Ovink said that India’s efforts under the Jal Shakti Ministry showcases work that can be replicated in other parts of the world, for which partnership helps. “But we still know that billions of people around the world lack that access to water,”

India’s water security programme is an inspiration and learning capacity that we can bring to other places around the world, he added.

An email sent to the Jal Shakti ministry on Wednesday seeking comments for the story remained unanswered at the time of publishing.

Water has become a priority for India-Netherlands bilateral relations as both the nations are facing the impact of climate change. President Ram Nath Kovind is set to make a state visit to the Netherlands from 4-7 April at the invitation of King Willem – Alexander and Queen Maxima, India’s external affairs ministry said on 22 March. 

The visit is significant as 2022 marks 75 years of diplomatic ties between India the Netherlands. In 2021, during a virtual summit between prime ministers of the two countries, a strategic partnership on Water was launched. The Netherlands is India’s fourth largest FDI source.

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