Henk Ovink, the Netherlands’ special envoy for international water affairs, recently made a presentation about water and climate change at the Rice School of Architecture’s water management roundtable.
The purpose of the roundtable was to discuss the future of Houston in case of disaster. Ovink’s presentation emphasized that collaboratively joining the ideas of engineers, citizens, politicians and architects could benefit the planet. Together, they can prepare for a future that will be very different from the present.
In the Netherlands, managing water has been a part of the culture since ancient times. As a native and expert of this field, Ovink has joined communities around the world as they deal with water problems.
“We wanted the talent of the world to engage with us,” Ovink said. “We wanted interdisciplinary teams from all over the world to come to New York and New Jersey and work with us and a team of partners to try to unravel the region’s vulnerabilities and interdependencies before we jumped to solutions.”
Rising water levels must be dealt with immediately. Ovink cited Hurricane Sandy and similar natural disasters as prime examples of how climate change will affect water levels in the future.
“The World Economic Forum put water crises as the No. 1 risk for the next decade,” Ovink said. “What’s interesting is that failure to adapt and mitigate these risks is No. 2, extreme weather events No. 3 and food crises No. 4. All of these are related to water. So for the next decade and the decades beyond that, water will rule the top of the list of crises that are impacting us.”