Have you ever wondered how the Dutch get their reputation and recognition for being water experts? It is mainly through important figures in society, such as Henk Ovink, who promote the Dutch image for all water related issues.
(Featured image by Cynthia van Elk)

Who is Henk Ovink?

Henk Ovink was appointed by the Dutch Cabinet (Government) in 2015 to be the official Envoy of International Water Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As the Ambassador for Water, Ovink has many tasks around the world; advocating water awareness, building institutional capacity and coalitions within the governments and multinational organizations etc. Also, Ovink is the Sherpa to the High Level Panel on Water, installed by the UN Secretary General and the President of the World Bank to catalyze change in water awareness and implementation.

At the start of the 2016/2017 school year, the Delta Academy invited Henk Ovink to give a presentation on current water-related global issues due to climate change. After realizing his importance and his efforts to distribute knowledge regarding water related safety I went up to him and asked some questions just so I could say, “I have talked to Henk Ovink”!

29402893940_69307bace7_k.jpgHenk Ovink visiting the Delta Academy in September 2016

Henk Ovink’s Legacy

Rebuilding by Design is a foundation to which Ovink is the principal advisor. The foundation is in partnership with at least 100 resilient cities focusing on re-imagining the way the communities find solutions for large-scale, complex problems. The work in Rebuild by Design is split up into a few categories including city initiatives, Hurricane Sandy design competition, research, policy and education.

Ovink developed the Hurricane Sandy Design Competition led by former president Obama, which changed the way the federal government responds to disasters. The approach aims to prepare communities for future uncertainties by creating a model that can be applied in many situations such as for the Rockefeller Foundation. Visit the Rebuild by Design site for more information and have a look at other projects.

Current Issue

In February, Ovink visited Florida to tour different areas because Florida has a high risk factor due to climate change. One of the projects that Ovink is working on now is taking place in Miami, which could be portrayed as the new Atlantis. In the Miami area, the daily high-water mark has been rising almost an inch every year.

Florida.jpgMiami - the new Atlantis

The reality of this new Atlantis seems quite dramatic but is not without reason. NASA announced in August 2016 a new monitoring program called—provocatively—Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG). By November, researchers reported that, owing to the loss of an ice shelf off northeastern Greenland, a new “floodgate” on the ice sheet had opened. All told, Greenland’s ice holds enough water to raise global sea levels by twenty feet.

Check out the video of Henk Ovink in Miami to get a better impression.

This is the very first blogpost in our new series 'Dutch Glory' where we write about water-related achievements by Dutch water professionals. Subscribe to the blog to be the first to read our next story in the series.

Last modified on: 10-07-2024