Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Security Council Open Debate: Water, Peace and Security

Statement by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations, New York, 22 November 2016

Monsieur le Président, distinguished delegates,

Votre Excellence Fodé Seck, je vous remercie pour votre vision et leadership en mettre ce thème sur l’agenda du Conseil de Sécurité.

Mon pays vous soutient de tout coeur en ce matière, en particulier vu de la cooperation étroite qui existe entre le Sénégal et le Royaume des Pays Bas dans le domaine d’eau et la protection contre l’eau.

[1. Introduction]

Mr. President,                         

The Kingdom of the Netherlands aligns itself with the statement made on behalf of the EU and its Member States.

We fully support the statement made by Italy, also in the light of our cooperation related to the upcoming split term with Italy in the Security Council.

During this split term in the Security Council in 2017 and 2018, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, together with Italy, will continue your efforts to address climate and water issues in the context of the peace and security agenda.

As the concept note so eloquently indicates, addressing root causes of conflict is not just about rule of law or security sector reform, but also about food, climate change and water.

We should not forget that –after oxygen- water is the main source of life. Our planet has sufficient water resources to provide ‘water security’ for all.

At the same time people around the globe experience too much, too little or too dirty water.

And that is certainly true for our Kingdom.

Water is of existential importance to all four countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands: Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands and St. Maarten.

As the World Bank report “High and Dry” highlighted, “the impacts of climate change will be channeled primarily through the water cycle”, increasing stress on water resources threatens economic and social gains.

Therefore, we need to address root causes of conflict related to water at an early stage and prevent water conflicts through mediation, water diplomacy and other political means.

The good news is water resources have also been a cause for cooperation instead of conflict.

In this context I would like to highlight three particular issues during this debate:

1.  Water as a facilitator for international cooperation;

2.  Water, climate change and migration;

3.  Need for water diplomacy (Planetary Security Initiative)  

[2.Water as a facilitator for cooperation; High Level Panel on Water]

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Kim have convened a High Level Panel on Water to strengthen international water cooperation.

The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, is honored to be on this panel, together with among other eminent persons H.E. President Macky Sall of Senegal.

The Panel will champion a comprehensive, inclusive and collaborative way of developing and managing water resources, and improving water and sanitation related services. And we commend the leadership of Singapore on water and sanitation.

The Swiss-Senegalese initiative of a Panel on Water, Peace and Security is equally timely, and we look forward to working with you to ensure the appropriate linkages – or may I say bridges in this context?

Besides, capacity to prevent water related conflicts through mediation and other political means needs to be strengthened.

An excellent example is the Senegal River Basin Organization OMVS, that clearly illustrates how common ownership, planning and management of a river basin and its infrastructure can improve regional cooperation and development.

[3.Water, Climate and Migration]

Mr. President,

There are no people who want to leave their homes, unless they are forced to do so. As our colleague from Palau just mentioned, climate change directly threatens the security, safety and even the existence of the people in the Small Island Development States SIDS.

In the past year we have seen the migration crisis soar and developed a growing sense that we need to tackle the root causes.

Water scarcity, climate change and food insecurity are amongst these root causes. They can be connected to social instability and potentially violent conflict.

We welcomed that the climate-related push factors were acknowledged at the UN migration summit last September. 

As we move forward, our policies and funding will need to follow suit.

In this regard the Dutch government is identifying options to intensify our cooperation on water with countries in the Sahel region.

[4. Need for water diplomacy; Planetary Security Initiative]

Mr. President,

We need to intensify effective water diplomacy to include the climate security lens in mediation.

As a strong proponent of integrated and comprehensive water agenda, the Netherlands is active on water, not only from a development perspective but also diplomatically.

For instance, to promote water diplomacy - last March we organized a seminar in Khartum for diplomats from the riparian states of the Nile basin, to prevent future water conflicts.

Next to this, the Netherlands launched the Planetary Security Initiative as a platform for the global community to address the security and conflict in a climate change perspective.

Next conference is planned on 5-6 December, again at the Peace Palace in The Hague.

The focus is on solutions in a context specific – no ‘one size fits all’ – common normative framework, based on international political legitimacy.

[5. Conclusion]

Mr. President,

Once again I thank you for putting this issue on our agenda.

Let us work together to address these issues in a comprehensive manner, connecting the pillars of the UN.

Let us work together to ensure that water be a cause for cooperation, not for conflict.

Let us work together so that water contributes to peace, justice and development.

And the Kingdom of the Netherlands will continue to be your partner for that important purpose.

Merci à vous.