3 Jan 2015
Leeuwarden – Innovating through Water

From left: Helen Scott, Research Coordinator and Acting Director – Global Compact Cities Programme,  Hein Molenkamp, Managing Director of Water Alliance WaterCampus and Dean Amhaus, President & CEO –  The Water Council (Milwaukee)

The Netherlands city of Leeuwarden has recently taken up the challenge to be an Innovating level city in the Global Compact Cities Programme, with a long term aim of being the European Water Capital.

This important occasion  was marked in December 2014 with an event in the Netherlands.

The event had international representation from Roy Torkelson from the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Sanitation and Water (UNSGAB)  Helen Scott, Acting Director, Global Compact Cities Programme and Dean Amhaus, CEO and President, The Water Council, Milwaukee.

Representatives of Dutch business, the provincial and municipal governments, and research and education organisations were also present. The event included presentations from the municipal government, the Water Alliance and international guests.

Located in the north west of Netherlands, Leeuwarden is the capital city of the Friesland Province. The Municipality committed to the Global Compact in 2010 with a focus on developing innovative and sustainable water technology.

Leeuwarden recently deepened their engagement to the Global Compact, undertaking  a 4 year, cross-sectorally managed Innovating project based around water technologies, a skilled global water workforce and community engagement.

There are three pillars to Leeuwarden’s Innovation project:
– innovative water technology,
– international collaboration,
– involvement of citizens and developing water awareness.


The project is working to economically revitalise, increase employment and stimulate business in Leeuwarden and build community awareness and a culture of water in the region. It is also working to address global water issues through the development of water technology and a highly skilled workforce and increasing its international reach and connectedness.

At the Innovating level of the Cities Programme cities commit to a medium term (3 year) project addressing a complex or seemingly intractable issue or set of issues within the city. It is cross sectorally managed, drawing together leaders from city government, the private sector and civil society.

Leeuwarden’s Innovating project will be managed by a number of partners, including Municipality of Leeuwarden, Wetsus, CEW/CiVwater, Province of Fryslân, Wetterskip Fryslân, Vitens and the Water Alliance.

WaterCampus is coordinating Leeuwarden’s engagement with the Cities Programme and its endeavours in Water Technology. It stimulates cooperation between national companies, research institutions and governments in water technology, to achieve synergy in innovation, education and entrepreneurship at a global level.

The WaterCampus Wetsus Building, Leeuwarden

Bart Volkers, Project Manager at the WaterCampus will be the contact point for Leeuwarden’s designated Innovating project; he presented at the Leeuwarden Innovating Engagement Ceremony.

At the ceremony, Alderman Henk Deinum spoke on the importance of innovative water technology for the region and said:

” We are proud to be an innovating city of the Cities Programme, and through the Compact, the WaterCampus looks forward to sharing its knowledge and solutions globally”.

Helen Scott, Acting Director of Cities Programme outlined the relevance of the Ten Principles of the Global Compact in day-to-day urban governance and management in terms of participant cities and their actions and highlighted the importance of collaboration and the international exchange of ideas and knowledge.

Helen spoke of the “whole being greater than the sum of its parts”. She was impressed with the approach in Leeuwarden, saying “there is a true sense of collaboration  –  a real ecosystem, with all parties fulfilling a defined role connecting, supporting and being supported by other parties”.

Dean Amhaus travelled from Milwaukee, USA to the Netherlands and spoke about The Water Council, the interplay between innovation, water technology and services and collaboration – and the importance of industry taking a lead in water stewardship. Milwaukee became an Innovating level city in the Global Compact Cities Programme in 2009. Earlier this year, the The Water Council was recognized as one of 30 leading innovators in America by the U.S Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC).

The event marked new transnational collaboration between two water hubs. With these two centres coming together, we expect  a cluster of water expertise, knowledge and collaboration to start to build within the Global Compact Cities Programme, which will strengthen global approaches to water management and to the benefit of other city participants.

We warmly welcome Leeuwarden as an Innovating level city and look forward to supporting their journey.

A short video on the the event in Leeuwarden

Also See, ‘WaterCampus announces Leeuwarden’s innovating status with the Cities Programme’ (Dutch) 

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