Closing speech by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, at the Seminar on Financing for Sustainable Infrastructure, Vietnam, 10 April 2019
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for this constructive discussion. This morning we’ve heard about the biggest challenges you face. We’ve listened to inspiring pitches about projects in both the Netherlands and Vietnam, and together looked at what financing strategy would work in tackling these challenges.
While Vietnam and the Netherlands are very different in a number of ways, we also have a lot in common. We’re both delta countries and have the same intense relationship with water. The sea and the rivers offer our countries enormous benefits. But they also demand a robust infrastructure. A ‘delta programme’ that anticipates the problems caused by too much or too little water.
And it’s clear that we share the same sense of urgency. Climate change is making its impact felt worldwide. Including in the Mekong Delta. A delta that’s home to millions, and also one of the most productive regions in the world. Protecting a delta like this against sea-level rise, extreme rainfall, drought and salinisation is a complex matter.
There are enormous interests at stake. Many different interests, too, which sometimes require different measures. So, it’s complex. But complexity creates opportunities.
So you need a delta programme supported by public and private stakeholders, with everyone contributing their own knowledge and taking their own responsibility. From government, knowledge institutions and big companies to entrepreneurs and local communities.
So, it’s complex. But complexity creates opportunities.
The process needs to be effectively managed. And there needs to be a sound and well thought-out plan for both infrastructure and financing. My colleague Menno Snel, the state secretary for finance, explained the Dutch financing model to you earlier today.
The finance ministry and my own ministry work closely together on the multiyear programme for infrastructure, spatial planning and transport. This sets out how big projects and programmes are to be financed – including climate adaptation projects.
There are two advantages to this approach. First, providing sufficient public funding guarantees that the measures needed to ensure an effective water policy will be carried out. And second, it makes us a reliable and attractive partner for private financiers and companies.
The balance between public responsibility and investment, and private enterprise has proven successful. We’re now promoting this approach internationally because it’s so effective in financing action on climate adaptation. Climate change is a threat that endangers the very existence of our country, because a third of the Netherlands is below sea level and another third is vulnerable to flooding.
This is such an urgent issue we want to take the initiative internationally. For example, we’ve established the Global Center on Adaptation. This is an organisation with a clear mission to make the world more resilient to the impact of climate change. For instance, by seeking local solutions to the biggest water-related challenges. And proposing coalitions to implement key international projects.
Two weeks ago you decided to join the Global Commission on Adaptation. I’m very pleased to hear it. Because climate change is a global challenge and it makes no distinction between continents, countries or people.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We’re keen to help Vietnam set up a good system of governance to implement its own delta programme, prioritise projects and establish a delta fund. Delta countries are fertile, successful, often densely populated, and play a key role in food production and economic development. So it’s important that we join forces, share knowledge and develop our infrastructure together.
This morning has been about sharing ideas. I’m confident this meeting will lead to ever closer ties between Vietnam and the Netherlands, and a common approach to the challenges of climate change.