Last March, Clingendael hosted a group of 12 young diplomats from Bangladesh for a four week course in international relations and diplomacy. One of the aims of the training was to increase understanding on issues such as economic diplomacy, food security, the international legal order and water management.
As delta countries, the Netherlands and Bangladesh have shared interests when it comes to water management. The Netherlands is well known for its water management and has a long history in protecting itself against the sea; the Delta Works being a good example. Bangladesh has recently adopted its own Delta Plan 2100 for sustainable water management, for which the Netherlands is assisting in its implementation.
Field visit on coastal management
During the course, the group paid a field visit to some of the Dutch coastal defense mechanisms to witness the challenges and technological innovations of water management applied in the Netherlands. During a tour of the Dutch coast and a visit to the impressive Maeslant Barrier, the group learned more about the dangers of water in the Netherlands and the protection mechanisms that are in place. The group was joined by diplomats from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) who were attending a course on Blue Economy at the Clingendael Institute at the same time. The two groups exchanged experiences with water management in their respective countries.
Expert meetings at Deltares
In the afternoon, the group visited the Deltares water institute in Delft for a series of expert meetings on water management in Bangladesh. The group discussed the projects that Deltares is implementing in Bangladesh (together with the Dutch and Bangladeshi government) to improve the water resilience of the flood prone delta areas of the country. This includes the development and implementation of cyclone shelters, dyke construction and reinforcement, land reclamation and water quality monitoring. An interesting discussion arose about knowledge sharing and innovative technologies, such as the development of apps that can share information with the population on water quality, rising water levels and potential floods.
Looking to the future, it can be concluded that there are still ample opportunities for joint cooperation between the Netherlands and Bangladesh on water management. The group, after their four-week course, returned home with new knowledge and insights on this important topic.