I was appointed in 2015 by the Dutch Cabinet as the first Special Envoy for International Water Affairs. As the Ambassador for Water, I am responsible for advocating water awareness around the world, building institutional capacity and coalitions amongst governments, multilateral organizations, private sector and NGOs, and initiating innovate approaches to address the world's stressing needs on water. Worldwide, water is the number one global risk, the connecting challenge across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and our best opportunity for inclusive and comprehensive action!
Furthermore, I am Sherpa to the UN / World Bank High Level Panel on Water and I served on President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force where I led the long term innovation, resilience and rebuilding efforts. I developed and led the ‘Rebuild by Design’ competition and initiated the National Disaster Resilience Competition. Before joining the Task Force, I was both Acting Director General of Spatial Planning and Water Affairs and Director National Spatial Planning for the Netherlands. Currently, I teach at Harvard GSD, the London School of Economics and the University of Groningen. My book - written together with Jelte Boeijenga - “Too Big. Rebuild by Design: A Transformative Approach to Climate Change” explores my climate and water work for the Obama Administration. Furthermore, in January 2018, I got the honour of receiving an honorary membership from the Royal Institute of Engineers of the Netherlands for my ‘transformative global water work’.
At the moment, I serve on the Strategic Advisory Board for the 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering (4TU RE). The joint capacity our four engineering universities bring to resilience is critically important: resilience is about our best future from all perspectives, depth and understanding - social, environmental, economic. With this collaborative strength, the four universities bring their collective capacity and talent to the so much needed research on resilience in governance, planning, design, infrastructure and systems. This research, the findings, impacts and application must be closely linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for inclusive and lasting impact.