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Yvo de Boer calls for action on responsible water use

Sep 10th, 2010 |

Keynote address by Yvo de Boer

Keynote address by Yvo de Boer

Brussels, 10 September 2010. “Public and private actors must act now, if we want to stop global water scarcity from turning into the main cause for political conflict, migration, hunger, and poverty”. This is the main conclusion of KPMG sustainability advisor and former UNFCCC secretary Yvo de Boer in his keynote speech at a Water Footprinting seminar, which took place yesterday within the premises of the International Press Centre in Brussels.

The main problem with water scarcity lies in the fact that farmers and companies do not yet feel a sense of urgency for sustainable water consumption. They should however, since over 90% of global water resources are consumed for agricultural and industrial purposes, and climate change accelerates the pace at which the world’s fresh water resources are drying up.

How can we realise a shift in thinking, and in acting?  The instrument KPMG proposes is the water footprint: making water consumption transparent, by calculating how much water is used in production processes and relating this water use to, amongst other factors, the water availability in a river basin. By making strategic water management a management priority, companies can save costs, contribute to a healthy environment, and include water in their marketing tools.

Raymond van Ermen, Board member of the European Water Partnership

Raymond van Ermen, EWP

Raymond van Ermen, Board member of the European Water Partnership (EWP), introduced the EWP Water Stewardship Program which aims to provide water users in Europe with a tool to verify, certify and to award their efforts towards Sustainable Water Management. Together with its partners from business, agriculture, civil society and with the support of public authorities, the EWP Water Stewardship Program has formulated a first draft version of the European Water Stewardship Standard, which currently undergoes public online consultation. At the same time, pilots are testing on-site the comprehension and applicability of the Standard to gain a better understanding of the practical impacts.

Technology and innovation are however, in practice, the most effective method for bringing down the water footprint. The world needs passionate inventors, able to design unorthodox water efficiency solutions, bring them to market, and export them to the world’s most arid regions. The Netherlands, a country that has lived with water for centuries, has a great deal of expertise to offer in this field. And the Dutch government is dedicated to help inventors develop their innovations into real, marketable products, and export these to the regions in the world that need them.

As an example of how the Dutch private sector finds solutions for the world’s water shortages, two passionate Dutch entrepreneurs presented their innovations at the seminar. Pieter Hoff explained how his “Groasis Waterboxx” grows trees on rocks in the desert without irrigation. The devices have been installed, amongst others, in vineyards in Southern California, and in Moroccan and Kenyan deserts. They are growing trees as we speak. Director Jan Hadders of Dacom, once a farmer himself, designed a satellite and sensor based agri yield management system that helps farmers in the Middle East save up to 50% of their water consumption.  Satellite and soil data are transferred to the Dacom system, which then instructs farmers how much water and pesticides the plants need. 50% more crop per drop!

The Water footprinting seminar was organized by the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, in close cooperation with the European Water Partnership (EWP), and the International Press Centre in Brussels.

For more information please contact Femke Smeets, press officer at NWP, at, or +31703043712

Netherlands Water Partnership

The Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) is a comprehensive network that unites Dutch water expertise. The partnership, consisting of members from private companies, government, knowledge institutes and NGOs, acts as a centre of information on water expertise, policy developments and market opportunities. But NWP is more than an information source, the organisation also initiates, coordinates and executes projects for its members, such as trade missions, exhibitions and conferences.

International Press Centre

In July 2000 the federal government decided to set up an international press centre in Brussels. The government’s eye fell upon the Residence Palace in the heart of the city’s European quarter. The opening of the press centre coincided with the start of the Belgian Presidency of the European Union on 2 July 2001. Since then, the International Press Centre Residence Palace has become the meeting place par excellence for journalists, policymakers, spokesmen and communications experts from Belgium and abroad.

Groasis Waterboxx

The Groasis waterboxx is an ‘intelligent water incubator’ that produces and captures water from the air through condensation and rain. The condensation is caused by artificial stimulation and the water is captured because of the design of the device, without using energy.

The Groasis waterboxx makes it possible to plant trees or bushes on rocks, on mountains, in gardens, in ashes of recently burned woods, eroded areas or deserts or any other place, without the help of irrigation with a 100% planting result. In moderate climates the Groasis waterboxx causes 15 to 30% faster growth and thus more biomass.

Dacom Agri Yield Management

Dacom is an innovative high-tech company that develops and supplies Agri Yield Management systems to arable farms around the world. The Dacom system offers growers practical solutions for profitable and sustainable agriculture. By combining sensor technology, internet and scientific knowledge, growers can continuously monitor and fine-tune their production process throughout the growing season.

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