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“Colombia's current challenges in water and climate demand innovative solutions.” It’s an endeavour that many water professionals attending the Colombia Platform meeting on Thursday, 7 December are eagerly undertaking. Over 45 individuals from public and private organisations, knowledge institutions and NGOs gathered in The Hague to discuss the bilateral collaboration between the Netherlands and Colombia, forge new connections and discover the various business opportunities the Colombian water and climate sector has to offer.

“I’m so pleased to see you all here today,” began Barbara Swart, Delta coordinator from the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management, as she initiated the meeting. “Together, we’ll discuss the ongoing collaboration between Colombia and the Netherlands, share valuable insights on successful practices and explore new market opportunities within Colombia's water and climate sector.”

by Carola Paas

Bilateral collaboration

The delta collaboration between the Netherlands and Colombia has been facilitated through various instruments of the Dutch government, such as Water as Leverage (WaL), BlueDeal and Partners for Water (PfW). Key components in these cooperations include promoting local ownership, co-creating with stakeholders and collaborations with the local public and private sectors. The ‘Water as Leverage Cartagena – Construyendo con el agua' programme illustrates this aptly. PfW Programme Advisor Robert Proos enthusiastically explains: “WaL Cartagena aims to develop sustainable, integral solutions for water adaptation and climate adaptation in Cartagena. This is carried out by two multidisciplinary teams and in partnership with local and international stakeholders. WaL Cartagena can also be an interesting launching pad for other water security innovations, so it’s a worthwhile exploration for the Dutch water sector.”

By Carola Paas

Blue Deal Programme in Colombia

“We aim to enhance the implementation power of solutions that improve water security in Colombia,” explained Ellen Bollen-Weide from the Dutch Water Authorities while introducing InspirAgua Colombia, a component of the Blue Deal Programme. This initiative, a collaborative effort by the Dutch Water Authorities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Water and Infrastructure of the Netherlands, strives to provide access to sufficient, clean and safe water for 20 million people globally.

Partners for Water subsidy scheme

Another initiative enhancing water security in Colombia is the ASR4WS project, co-funded by Partners for Water. Marta Faneca Sànchez, a hydrogeologist at Deltares, enthusiastically elaborated on the feasibility study her team conducted on six banana plantations in Colombia's Magdalena Delta. “During the dry season, the local rivers experience freshwater scarcity, which leads to the salinization of groundwater and soil, loss of biodiversity and conflicts among water users. With Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) technology, we aim to address these challenges by storing fresh water during the rainy season that can be utilized during the dry period,” she explained.

by Carola Paas

Sànchez noted that the Partners for Water subsidy supported the project not only by providing funds but also by establishing vital connections with local stakeholders and partners, and it has been crucial for the project’s continuation. “The study reveals promising potential for adapting an existing well into an ASR system. To validate these findings, a pilot project will be conducted on one of the farms, with continued financial support from Partners for Water.”

Obtain funding through the Partners for Water subsidy scheme
Do you want to know if your project is also eligible for the Partners for Water subsidy scheme? Projects with innovations in the field of WASH, water quality & availability, water & climate, water & biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and water infrastructure can apply for the subsidy from 19 January until 16 February 2024. Apply or explore the terms and conditions here.

Market opportunities

“Colombia is taking big steps towards treating 100% of its wastewater and providing drinking water to an additional 3 million Colombians by 2030,” said Wessel Mol from the bilateral chamber 'Holland House Colombia'. Speaking from his office in Bogotá, Mol shared his excitement about the numerous opportunities for the B2B market across various regions in Colombia. The most significant ones are highlighted below:

Significant opportunities in various Colombian cities:

  • Cartagena: improvement of drinking water and sewerage coverage in rural areas, equipment needs for the new treatment plant El Cerro, IT tools for storage and distribution of water.
  • Santa Marta: drinking water and sewerage coverage, and rainwater capture.
  • Bogotá: wastewater treatment
  • Cúcuta, Neiva and Duitama: wastewater treatment systems

To learn more about these opportunities, you are invited to join the webinar ‘Opportunities Cartagena’, organized by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) on 25 January 2024.

“Colombia is a land of vast opportunities and significant water challenges. Thanks to our robust democratic institutions, we offer a stable foundation for building strong business and collaborative relationships. This ensures substantial government support for those seeking to invest or collaborate in enhancing Colombia's water security.” 

Mr Julian Silva from the Embassy of the Republic of Colombia

 

by Carola Paas

A promising water and climate sector

As this fruitful meeting ended, Swart concluded with a hopeful summary: “Today we've recognized that working at the regional level is just as important as collaborating at the institutional level, and I believe we can all agree there are numerous opportunities within Colombia's water and climate sector. The current challenges require innovative solutions, and I am confident that you have the products and expertise necessary to enhance water security in this promising delta country.”

Join us at Waterproof 2024

Do you want to connect with fellow water experts and take collaborative action towards a sustainably water secure world? Partners for Water is organising Waterproof 2024 on Tuesday 6 February, at DeFabrique in Utrecht.

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