Henk Ovink appointed Executive Director of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water

Denise Young
Johannes Mengel

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Henk Ovink has been appointed Executive Director of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water. An experienced and passionate advocate for the water cause, Ovink will oversee the Commission’s work towards the launch of the group’s final report, expected in September 2024. In his new capacity, he will lead the secretariat team and oversee the Commission’s research tracks, the communication and outreach work as well as the multilateral processes the Commission engages in.

“The way our economies are designed has led humankind to overuse and pollute this amazing resource we all depend on. The Global Commission on the Economics of Water is committed to unravel this and promote and provoke actionable pathways for a water secure world for all, and I’m honoured and proud to have the opportunity to take a leading role in ensuring its success,” he said. “The power of water is in its capacity to connect. It runs across all of the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Ovink, adding that “if we embrace its complexity and understand its interdependencies, it can help the world bridge its divides and come together to build the better water future we need.”

Before joining the Commission, Ovink served as the first ever global water ambassador for over 8 years, appointed in 2015 by the Cabinet of the Netherlands as Special Envoy for International Water Affairs. In this capacity he co-led the second UN Water Conference in 2023, the first since 1977, bringing more than 10,000 people from every continent together to show that water matters for all humankind.

Previously, he has served on US President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force where he led the long-term innovation, resilience, and rebuilding efforts. He has won multiple awards for his pioneering work in the water sector, is a lecturer at the University of Groningen and author of the book “Too Big, Rebuild by Design: A Transformative Approach to Climate Change.” He is currently a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute.

Ovink’s appointment was welcomed by the four co-chairs of the Global Commission, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mariana Mazzucato and Johan Rockström. In a joint statement, they said: “Henk Ovink is a powerhouse whose commitment to making the world tackle the water crisis is second to none. With more than a decade of advocacy, and strong networks in the official, scientific and NGO sectors within the international water space, he is well placed to navigate the work of the Global Commission and ensure its impact in 2024 and beyond. His drive and ability to rally people to the cause will ensure that the Commission’s recommendations have the impact needed for the good of people and planet,” they added.

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