Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Kingdom of The Netherlands; Sherpa to the UN/WB High Level Panel on Water
“We have no time to waste. Every indecisive day means more despair, more disasters and less time to mitigate and adapt. The situation is worsening fast and improving it is becoming more costly by the day. Our knowledge and understanding of that future and our capacity to intervene and act have never been this great. We know just about everything that can go wrong and possess all the resources and skills to do something about it. So the biggest disgrace is to look the other way. There is no excuse at all. It is our only chance for a future and our biggest obligation. We must dare to embrace that future in all its complexity, dare to understand it and exploit it for real change. It can and must be done, now. It only requires the will to act and the guts to change. Nothing else.”
—Henk Ovink, Too Big, 2018
Henk Ovink was appointed in 2015 by the Cabinet of the Netherlands as the first Special Envoy for International Water Affairs. 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.
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 11 Heads of State / Heads of Government including Prime Minister Rutte from the Netherlands to catalyze change in water awareness and implementation.
Ovink is Principal for Rebuild by Design, the resilience innovation competition he developed and led for President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.
In January 2018 Henk Ovink was awarded for his ‘global water work’ an honorary membership of the Royal Institute of Engineers of the Netherlands.
Ovink teaches at the University of Groningen, the London School of Economics and at Harvard GSD. His last book “Too Big. Rebuild by Design: A Transformative Approach to Climate Change” explores the recovery work post Hurricane Sandy as an opportunity to learn from.