Minister of Infrastructure and Environment of the Netherlands Melanie Schultz has
been in Egypt for a two-day visit with her counterpart, Minister for Water and
Irrigation Mohamed Abd el-Aati. The Ministers discussed Dutch-Egyptian
cooperation in coastal zone management, water and agriculture, rural sanitation
and wastewater management. They also visited coastal defences near Alexandria.
On 12 January 2017, Minister Schultz van Haegen spoke at the Egyptian-Dutch
high-level Water Panel in Alexandria (Egypt) about coastal management, water
and agriculture. The minister praised the actions deployed by the Water Panel, but
at the same time emphasised the many opportunities for further cooperation in the
field of know-how exchange and projects. Schultz said: “There are many solutions
and successful approaches at hand. Not just in the future, but now. This panel
offers us a perfect platform for exchanging experiences. A springboard to
investment in clear, practical actions that will benefit both our countries. Because
making our world safer and better for everyone is a work in progress.”
“The last time I was in Egypt was in August 2015 at the opening of the new Suez
canal,” Schulz said. “A true masterpiece, whose construction set a world record.
Something that Egypt can be very proud of. And also proof of the fruitful
partnership between Egypt and the Netherlands. Dutch dredging companies played
an important part in this enormous and complex project.
“Equally enormous and complex are all the water-related challenges we both face.
This morning I visited some impressive field projects. It was good to see with my
own eyes the actions and challenges that lie ahead on issues like coastal erosion.
“Our countries have a special bond with water. We’ve been working together
closely in this field for more than 40 years now!
The Memorandum of Understanding we signed in November 2014 is a good
illustration of our partnership. With this MoU we expressed our joint interest in the
further development of a long-term balanced partnership on water.
This is a process of change. We’re moving from a relationship based on
development cooperation, towards a relation based on mutual benefits.
From a primarily government to government relationship towards a cooperation
involving governments, private sector, knowledge institutes and donors in both
countries. As well as donors like the World Bank, the European Union and the
Green Climate Fund. And the focus of our relationship is shifting from studies to
financing and implementation of projects.
“Let’s take coastal zone management as an example. Coastal erosion is a major
concern both in Egypt and in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands it threatens the
stability of the dunes which protect an area that is home to 4 million people.
We’re trying to safeguard the stability of the dunes by opting for ‘building with
nature’ solutions based on sand nourishment.
Our approach is based on prevention. A far better and also more economical
solution than accepting a high risk of flooding.
“I realise the situation along Egypt’s northern coast is different. For a start, it’s a
thousand kilometres long. Some stretches are densely populated like here in
Alexandria and also Port Said, other parts are sparsely populated.
“It’s likely that in Egypt too, prevention is better than accepting high risks of
flooding or loss of land. The question is, which measures are most effective and
where are they needed? Can building with ‘nature and sand nourishment concepts
be applied here as well? What other measures can be implemented in specific
“As we all know, there is not a ‘one size fits all solution’.”
Schulz then went on to talk about water and agriculture. “I am especially looking
forward to the presentation on Geodata and satellite, information,” she said, both
promising techniques. The Netherlands and the FAO started an initiative using
Remote Sensing data to monitor crop water productivity, or ‘crop per drop’.
It creates great opportunities for policymakers, private sector and farmers to
improve water use in agriculture.”
22 January 2017