Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong
Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong
Department of Urban Planning and Design, The University of Hong Kong
Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong
Water represents man’s most challenging and complex risk. Floods and draughts, pollution and water conflicts combine in conceivably disastrous ways with rapid urbanization, a growing demand for food and energy, migration, and climate change. Yet water’s connecting and interdependent strength also provides us with a not to be ignored opportunity: we can use water as leverage for impactful and catalytic change.
The water challenges carry with them the risk of disruptive transitions. Only a better understanding of the complex risks will allow us to de-risk the world effectively. Recognizing that water can also be used as leverage helps us find opportunities for real change, for transformative projects everywhere and on every scale. And we have no time to waste if we want to safeguard our planet and our future, and achieve our climate goals, our sustainable development goals, and reach beyond.
The challenge is to match long term comprehensive urban planning with short term innovative transformations; ambitious climate adaptation plans with bankable projects; developing ever more knowledge of the water system with building more resilient cities; research, design and implementation with inclusive urban alliances. Therefore result driven collaboration is essential, across all sectors, all layers of government, all stakeholders—from activists and vulnerable communities to private and public institutions.
Mr. Henk Ovink was appointed by the Dutch Cabinet as the first Special Envoy for International Water Affairs (2015). As the Ambassador for Water, he is responsible for advocating water awareness around the world, focusing on building institutional capacity and coalitions among governments, multilateral organizations, private sector and NGO’s to address the world’s stressing needs on water and help initiate transformative interventions.
Mr. Ovink is also Sherpa to the High Level Panel on Water, installed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and President of the World Bank Jim Kim with 10 Heads of State / Heads of Government including Prime Minister Rutte from The Netherlands to catalyze change in water awareness and implementation. Mr. Ovink is Principal for Rebuild by Design, the resilience innovation competition he developed and led for President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force where he was Senior Advisor to the Chair. He has been Director General for Planning and Water Affairs and Director for National Spatial Planning in The Netherlands.
Mr. Ovink teaches at the London School of Economics and at Harvard GSD and is member of the International Advisory Board for the City of Rotterdam. He was Curator for the 5th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2012 ‘Making City’, and curated the debate series ‘Design and Politics: the next phase’ for Aedes network Campus Berlin. He initiated the research program and is chief editor of the series of publications with NAI010 Publishers on Design and Politics.
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CENTRE OF URBAN STUDIES AND URBAN PLANNING
THE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG