This year’s World Water Forum (WWF) is a significant one as it marks the events 10th anniversary

The jubilee edition is hosted by Indonesia and will take place in Bali under the main theme of ‘Water for shared prosperity’. The event will officially open with a traditional Balinese water purification ceremony, followed by 6 days of knowledge sharing, presenting, listening and networking.

Liliane Geerling, Programme Coordinator for Partners for Water and Ivo van der Linden, Delegated Representative for Indonesia discuss the importance of this event and the relationship between the Netherlands and Indonesia.

Liliane Geerling – Programme Coordinator, Partners for Water

‘At the WWF, we will present the Netherlands as a “Centre of Excellence with a shared pavilion where we showcase our broad expertise and knowledge related to water security. Partners for Water serves as host, but there are many other organisations involved, such as the Dutch embassy, Dutch companies and several Indonesian organisations. We feel that by attending the WWF we will benefit greatly because it will bring together so many stakeholders including; governments, multilateral institutions, academia and businesses.’


Enhancing cooperation

‘The pavilion will offer a comprehensive programme with lots of opportunities for interaction and in-depth sessions. For example, we are organising some sessions around the theme “Status and trends in global water cooperation”, where we will discuss what makes water cooperation work, how we can enhance bilateral cooperation and which role the international multilateral system should play. Another example is a presentation by the Ecoshape consortium about their research into Nature-based Solutions for increased water resilience in South-East Asia.’

‘At this year’s WWF, there will be many young water enthusiasts attending which is a great idea as after all they’re the future of the water sector. This is why we involved them in the run up to the event and it will continue to engage with them during and afterwards. One of the “youth activities” at the forum is a “pressure cooker challenge” (Raincarft Bali). Young professionals must come up with solutions to specific water challenges on the spot and then present them. I will be part of the jury and am very curious to hear what they come up with.’

Water action agenda

‘For me the WFF will be successful if, through our pavilion, we can spark discussions on how to advance innovative water solutions and how we can make these inclusive to all. Following that, I hope we can share knowledge and approaches towards water security for all. I also hope we can build upon the Water Action Agenda, which was launched at the UN Water Conference in New York in 2023. Since then, we’ve taken the lead on further developing this agenda and we hope to continue this in Bali. There is plenty of overlap between the action agenda and the themes of the WWF so I’m confident we will manage this.’

Ivo van der Linden – Delegated Representative, Indonesia

‘The fact that this year’s World Water Forum (WWF) is taking place in Bali is special for the Netherlands, due to our long-standing relationship with Indonesia. This collaboration was formalised in 2007 through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), but we have been working together for much longer. We do this in an integrated, inclusive, sustainable and equal manner. We want to commend Indonesia for hosting this WWF and applaud their leadership role in addressing global water and climate challenges. We will help them out wherever we can, to ensure this edition is a memorable one.’

‘Indonesia is developing rapidly and we have ambitious goals regarding our collaboration. This includes new ways of working, where we work together to create an agenda and activities. As we’re both delta countries, we face common challenges such as coastal erosion and rising sea levels. We’re not only partners on water issues, but we also collaborate on other topics too, like renewable energy, sustainable cities and agriculture innovation. But water is an important driver for our broader collaboration.’

Shared knowledge agenda

As we knew that this year’s WWF would be hosted in Bali, we’ve been working together with the Indonesian Government to organise several joint activities. One aspect of this is giving young people a greater platform, as Liliane already explained. In addition to that, we also created a shared “knowledge agenda” for the event, which will culminate in two panel sessions that we’re jointly moderating. In one of them we will discuss small islands development and how we can help mitigate the water problems they face, like a lack of fresh water or climate change-related challenges.’

In the coming years, we will continue investing in our relationship with Indonesia through enhanced dialogue and aligning policy agendas. Part of that process includes evaluating our past collaboration and discussing how we can further improve it. During these sessions, we also include other partners such as the Asian Development Bank as they can use their funding programmes to help turn ideas and plans into concrete, actionable projects.

For more information about the Netherlands Pavilion programme, visit the event page.

Or, directly download the programme!

Liliane Geerling joined Partners for Waters on October 1st as programme coordinator. Common themes throughout her whole career have been water, spatial adaptation, knowledge sharing and project and programme management This is one of the reasons she believes that now, in her current position, everything she has learned in the past years is ‘coming together’. But first, let’s get to know her a bit better. Welcome to the team, Liliane!

‘Since graduating as a spatial designer at the Technical University in Delft, I’ve always found it important to incorporate local contexts into my work. Water is of course part of this context and has become an increasingly important topic in my career. The city of Rotterdam,  my first employer where I worked as project and programme manager, was involved in water issues at an early stage. So, for me, the current theme of “water and soil are leading” has been the starting point for me for many years already. Smart city planning and design means putting water in its natural place.

The other side of the table

‘After working for 7 years as project manager and advisor for a spatial development consultancy agency, I joined the HZ University of Applied Sciences in Zeeland. For 10 years I gave form to the spatial development courses within their water management programme as senior lecturer and researcher. Within that programme delta countries play a pivotal role which is why I’ve worked on a lot of projects in Southeast Asia. That’s when I first encountered PfW. Back then I was “on the other side of the table” trying to win subsidy schemes. An experience I’ll now take with me in my work here.’

‘At PfW I’ll work on connecting the components of the programme: subsidies, thematic and delta approaches and making sure that lessons learned are well communicated. There are many things to focus on, like figuring out how we can distinguish ourselves better in the Dutch water sector. Or how we, with relatively small budgets, can still manage to create “flywheel effects” in the countries where we’re active. Co-creation plays a big role in this because if locals don’t embrace it, a project will never be successful.’

New opportunities

‘I would also like to emphasise monitoring and evaluation, a topic which hasn’t received enough attention yet. Starting up a project is one thing, keeping it going is just as important. Continuity also fits our ambition of making the water sector more circular. Of course, national and local politics play a role in this process too. New political leaders need to understand the importance of our work. This can be challenging, but it is the circumstances in which we operate. It is complex, but also exciting and sometimes a turn of events, which at first seems negative, can lead to new positive opportunities.’

Currently I’m trying to figure out what my field looks like, which is why I’m in The Hague a lot, meeting people and connecting the dots. Systems thinking and integration have always been a part of my career, so I’m used to looking at complex situations from different angles. But I feel that in this position everything comes together: learning, capacity building, knowledge sharing, managing, innovating, communicating and preparing for the future. It will also be very interesting to see how the various water related programmes within RVO can strengthen one another in the coming years. And fun!

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