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Linking Belgian stakeholders, programs, and policies in the context of international cooperation

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

8h30 - 18h00 

Egmont Palace

8bis, Place du Petit Sablon, Brussels.


Scope of the event

Water is vital to life on Earth and directly or indirectly supports all socio-economic activities in modern societies. Water-dependent services include drinking water provisioning, health and sanitation, food and energy production, and ecosystem stability. Given its vital importance, water security ranks high on the international political agenda and it is strongly embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) strategy, with SDG6 specifically dedicated to water, and other SDGs strongly conditioned to the achievement of SDG6.

The Belgian expertise in the water sector coming from the public, non-governmental and private sector is significant. This expertise is already well integrated within international programs. Given the many actors working in the water area, many emerging opportunities exist for improving the coordination and leveraging the Belgian water expertise. Also, water can be a source of conflict and its role to underpin overall security should well be acknowledged. Given the current mandate held by Belgium in the UN Security Council, it is important to identify pathways to improve water security, and how Belgian actors contribute to this. Hence, linking actors, policies and programs is expected to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of Belgian water activities within international cooperation and, hence, contribute to overall security.

As a response, a group of Belgian water actors from the public, non-governmental and private sector supported by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation have formed a Water Platform to discuss and provide advice on how to strengthen actions and programs implemented by Belgian actors. The Water Platform launches a one day event with the idea in mind to gather a larger number of experts for a national-scale and cross-sectoral discussion on water and cooperation for development.



The one-day conference event aims to provide a water platform for the different actors of Belgian cooperation and development to network, to build and nurture a water identity, to identify possible synergies between actors and programs,  to reflect and discuss on water-related issues, and to develop a coherent, coordinated water vision and strategy for water in Belgian international cooperation. 

More specifically, the event aims: 

  1. to connect Belgian water actors working in international cooperation and share experiences and lessons learned about success stories regarding Belgian actions in the water and water connected sectors;

  2. to discuss the challenges and opportunities for a coordinated, coherent and efficient water vision and strategy in the Belgian cooperation and development program.



Registration and reception

8h30 - 9h00

Coffee will be served

Session 1: Overview of Belgian cooperation in the water domain 

9h00 - 11h00

Chairs: Katrien Van Hooydonk (Join For Water) & Marnik Vanclooster (UCLouvain)

  • 9h00 -9h15: Opening and welcome remarks.  (Catherine Galand. Thematic Director at DGD)

  • 9h15 - 9h45: Keynote: The added-value of coordinating water actors in international water cooperation.  (Dr. A. Randriamaherisoa, Head of Hydraulic Department of Polytechnic University of Antananarivo, Madagascar)

  • 9h45-10h30: The Belgian landscape in international water cooperation: Preliminary results of the Water Nexus project (Alice Alonso, Water Nexus Research Fellow, UCLouvain)

  • 10h30-10h40: Presentation of success stories of Belgian actors within water and development cooperation: The Flemish partnership for water and development (Lieve Dillen, VPvWO, Government of Flanders))

  • 10h40-10h50: Presentation of success stories of Belgian actors within water and development cooperation: A success story from Walloon actors (Sandra Soarez-Frazao, UCLouvain, and Johan Slimbrouck, Join For Water). Watch the video here

  • 10h50-11h00: Presentation of success stories of Belgian actors within water and development cooperation: A success story from the Brussels Capital Region (Martin Binon, Brussels Environment Agency)

Coffee break: Networking and poster symposium

11h00 – 11h40

Session 2: Emerging opportunities for linking Belgian water actors in international cooperation

11h40 - 13h00

Chairs: Lieve Dillen  (VPvWO, Government of Flanders) & Joost Wellens (Université de Liège)

Moderator: Freddy Evens (Government of Flanders)

Round Table Panel:

  • Academic sector: Professor Jean Berlamont (KULeuven)

  • Belgian governmental cooperation sector: Liana Hoornweg (Enabel)

  • Non Governmental Organizations:  Katrien Van Hooydonk (Join For Water) and  Charlotte Schelstraete (Focal Point WASH at the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders)

  • Fourth Pillar Organizations: Marina Van Huffel (FINADO)

  • Private sector – Flanders: Jacob Bossaer (CEO and Founder of BOSAQ)

  • Private sector – Wallonia: Hubert Siemes (International Finance Adviser at AWEX)

  • Belgian Cities and Communities: Koen De Baets (Global Policy Department at Municipality of Evergem)

  • Flemish region: Bernard De Potter (Flanders Environment Agency - VMM)

  • Walloon region: Johan Derouane (Coordinator of the international cooperation in the water sector at the Public Service of Wallonia, Environment and Water Department)

Lunch break and poster symposium

13h00 - 14h30

Session 3: Coordinating stakeholders at the national level for international cooperation.

14h30 - 17h15

Chairs: Sophie Colette (Enabel) & Carol Durieux (DGD) 

  • 14h30- 15h00: Lessons learned from the Netherlands (Bianca Nijhof, Managing Director of the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP))

  • 15h00-16h00: Coordination in stakeholders in international water cooperation: Strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. A regional perspective

    • Group 1: Europe (Rapporteur: Jan Cools, U Antwerpen)

    • Group 2: Africa (Rapporteur: Bruno Verbist, KULeuven)

    • Group 3: Asia (Rapporteur: Jean Hugé, ULB)

    • Groupe 4: Latin America & Carribean (Rapporteur:  Peter Goethals, UGent)

  • 16h00-17h00: Restitution and debate (Rapporteurs, speakers and panelists)

  • 17h00-17h15: Towards a Brussels declaration on ‘Water Without Borders’

Reception and poster symposium


Reception and poster symposium



Sign the Brussels Declaration on Water Without Borders


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Pictures of the event

Courtesy of Dries Moorthaemers (Join For Water) and Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade


Featured Speakers & Panelists


Catherine Galand

Thematic Director at DGD


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Dr. Alain J. Randriamaherisoa

Head of Hydraulic Department of Polytechnic University of Antananarivo

Leader and Manager of important Water and Environmental programs/projects and active devotee of Madagascar and Africa WASH sector during a long time by having been the principal technical lead of Madagascar WASH as General Director of the Ministry of Water, as AMCOW technical advisor, as UNESCO focal point and as Lecturer at the University of Antananarivo-Madagascar. He is in permanent contact and collaboration with the Catholic University of Louvain-Belgium where he got his Engineer and PhD on Rural Development focused on Hydrology followed by a special post graduate degree on sustainable project planning, economy and management in the University of Bradford-United Kingdom.


Dr. Alice Alonso

Research fellow on the Water Nexus project; UCLouvain

Alice Alonso graduated with her PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from the University of Florida (USA), and received her MS from UCLouvain (Belgium).  She mines field and satellite remote sensing data to advance the understanding of the short and long-term feedback relationships between human activities and land & water resources. The overarching goal of her research is to support the management of coupled human and natural systems to increase their water sustainability and resilience. Over the past 2 years, she has been working in the research group of Prof. Marnik Vanclooster (UCLouvain, Earth and Life Institute). She worked on the KLIMOS-Acropolis policy support research project and is now the project leader of the Water Nexus project.

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Ir. Lieve Dillen

International policy advisor for the Government of Flanders

Lieve Dillen works for the government of Flanders (Departement Omgeving) as advisor international policy. Her team deals with international environmental, spatial and energy policy, including bilateral and multilateral agreements. This includes i.a. the development of Flemish, Belgian and European positions and the establishment of initiatives for the proper execution of multilateral agreements and cooperation agreements between Flanders and other parties. She co-ordinates the Flemish Water for Development Partnership, to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 6. This initiative involves over 100 Flemish partners ranging from NGOs, public water companies, private firms over local authorities, regional administrations and the government of Flanders to academic and research institutions active in the water sector. The FWfDP implements sustainable water and sanitation projects in the global South, fostering capacity building, the transfer of expertise to southern partners and North-North, North-South and South-South co-operation.


Martin Binon

Legal adviser at Brussels Environment

Martin Binon graduated in law at UCLouvain in 2008 and got a master's degree in science and environmental management from ULB in2009.
He has been legal adviser for Brussels Environment for 9 years and specialises in water-related issues.
Since 2015, he has been the secretary and member of the selection committee of projects eligible for subsidies from the International Solidarity Fund in the water sector of the Brussels-Capital Region.


Freddy Evens

Staff director at the Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs

Freddy Evens is a staff director at the Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs. International cooperation is the common thread in his career at the Education Department, the former Foreign Policy Administration and Flanders International Department and the current Foreign Affairs Department of the Government of Flanders. He was head of the foreign policy (Europe) division for 11,5 years and acted temporarily as Secretary-general. In the period 2009-2015, he led the secretariat of the SARiV, which advised the Government of Flanders and the Flemish Parliament on Flemish international policy. In 2015, Freddy Evens returned to the Foreign Affairs Department as coordinator of the stakeholder management team, then acting Secretary General and now staff director. The Government of Flanders appointed him as a member of the Board of Directors of the Flemish House in New York and as a member of the Advisory Board of the United Nations University - Institute for Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) in Bruges. The Education Department recently appointed him as chairman of the Board of Directors of the non-profit organization EPOS.

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Prof. Jean Berlamont

Emeritus professor at KULeuven

Jean Berlamont (Bruges, 29.11.1946) is a civil engineer (Ghent University) and obtained his PhD at Ghent University. e was appointed successively lecturer (1974), ass. professor (1976) and full professor (1982) at the University of Leuven, lecturing on hydraulics and hydraulic engineering. Since 2012, he is emeritus professor. Prof. Berlamont has been member of the board and chairman of VLIR UDC (1999 – 2005). He has been involved in water related co-operation projects with universities in Indonesia, Bolivia, Surinam and Kenya.


Liana Hoornweg

Director of Sectoral & Thematic Expertise in Enabel

Liana Hoornweg comes from the Netherlands, has a Master in Cultural Anthropology from the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam as well as a Master in Business Administration from the Copenhagen Business School. She has worked in international development for over 15 years. Her field of expertise is management in development. She combines sound practical experience with a demonstrated capacity to build synergies between stakeholders to maximise impact.

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Charlotte Schelstraete

Focal Point WASH at the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders

Charlotte Schelstraete graduated in 2010 as a geologist specialized in soil & groundwater at Ghent University. After working for 7 years in the environmental consultancy sector, she dedicated her water expertise to the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders as the technical advisor for the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects.
Within the Red Cross movement, WASH is regarded as a public health intervention. Therefore the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders has a strong focus on evidence-based practice in order to measure and prove the impact of WASH activities. 
Belgian Red Cross-Flanders is mainly active in East- and Southern Africa. Charlotte ensures the quality of the delivered WASH programs in different settings, strengthens the data collection & data analysis and coordinates primary research within the WASH projects.


Katrien Van Hooydonk

Head of Programs at Join For Water

As a water expert, Katrien defends the right to water and sanitation for everybody, with respect, with knowledge, with dedication and - of course - a lot of fun! As Head of Programs @Join For Water, she assures the implementation of a diversified portfolio of international cooperation programs in Haiti, Ecuador, Benin, Mali, RDCongo, Uganda, Burundi and Belgium in drinking water access and management, sanitation chain, water for agriculture, integrated water resources management. As such she contributes with Join for Water to the Sustainable Development Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

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Marina Van Huffel

Chairwoman of FINADO

Since 1996, Marina Van Huffel has been chairwoman of FINADO vzw and responsible for all projects in Haiti. Together with their southern partners in Ethiopia and Haiti, FINADO organizes school, food and water and sanitation projects. Marina represents the 4th pillar organizations and “Vierde Pijlersteunpunt”  in the board of directors of 11.11.11, where she defends the interests of all citizens' initiatives for development cooperation, undertaken by Flemish organizations. 
She considers better cooperation between the 4th pillar initiatives and between 4th pillars and other development cooperation actors necessary. Marina’s education is situated in the field of sociotherapy family sciences, contextual psychotherapy and international cooperation.


ir. Jacob Bossaer

Founder and CEO of BOSAQ

Jacob Bossaer is a chemical engineer who graduated from KAho as industrial engineer and UGent as civil engineer. He worked at VITO as a researcher on membrane technology and at the Princess Elisabeth base in Antarctica where he built a decentralized, circular watercourse. He started BOSAQ 2.5 years ago, specializing in decentralized drinking water treatment.


Koen  De Baets

Officer at local global policy department at Evergem

Koen De Baets works for the Evergem municipality in the local global policy department (dienst lokaal mondiaal beleid). Since 2002, he has been following up the twinning between Evergem and Guaranda. Guaranda is located in the Ecuadorian Andes and the region is struggling with increasing water supply problems. Both municipalities co-wrote plans for an integrated policy for sustainable water management in Guaranda. At the same time, the local global policy department in Evergem also provides incentives to work locally, in Flanders, on this topic.


Hubert Siemes


International Finance Advisor, AWEX

Hubert Siemes joined AWEX in 2000.
Since then, as International Finance Advisor, he has been helping Walloon companies in their internationalization through the appropriate use of regional, federal and international aid in collaboration with his teammate Patrick Heinrichs, Expert in International Funding.
Its function as a Greentech sectoral referent, allows it to provide more specific support to companies and dedicated structures active in the field of environmental technologies.

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Ir. Johan Derouane

Hydrogeologist, Coordinator of the international cooperation in the water sector at Public Service of Wallonia, Environment and Water Department

Johan Derouane, engineer hydrogeologist (University of Liege, 1994) and specialist in water resources management, has been coordinating for twenty years the international cooperation activities developed in the water sector within the Environment and Water Department of the Public Service of Wallonia (SPW). He is involved in water related cooperation projects with public institutions, private sector, NGOs and research institutions in West and Northern Africa, South America, Asia and Caribbean. He is also scientific collaborator and lecturer at the University of Liege.


Bianca Nijhof

Managing Director of the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP)

.Since January 2019 Bianca is Managing Director of the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP). Companies, NGOs, Knowledge Institutes and Government have joined forces in this public-private partnership which acts as the gateway to the Dutch Water Sector. Bianca is a proven and successful leader in sustainability and water with an extensive network across businesses, governmental organizations and NGOs. She has a passion for making a difference and the expertise to contribute to high-value outcomes across sustainability, natural capital, water-energy-food nexus, Sustainable Development Goals, capacity building, program management, and stakeholder engagement.

Previously Bianca worked at Arcadis where she was the global lead for the Arcadis Natural Capital business solution and the founding member of Arcadis NV ‘Global Sustainability Leadership Team' working with WBCSD and World Economic Forum

She is board member of the Amsterdam International Water Week, sits in the Advisory Panel to the Natural Capital Coalition, the Technical Committee of the Social & Human Capital Protocol, the Steering Committee of the INDUS forum (Indo-Dutch CSR & Sustainability Forum), member of the Foundation Board at Workplace Pride Foundation, chair of the Advisory Board for the Araguaia Corridor Cost-Benefit Analysis Study from the Black Jaguar and member of the Sustainability Commission NKBV (Dutch Mountaineering Association).






Should the content of the poster respond to any specific topic on water and cooperation for development?

We’d recommend using the poster to present your organisation and its strategies or programs linked with water and development cooperation. The poster can also showcase a few successful case study applications or projects, statistics about your organisations, etc. We hope the poster symposium to be a platform for actors  to introduce themselves and get to know each other. 

What are the accepted poster dimensions?

The poster panels will be 120 cm wide and 200 cm high. Any poster that fits in these dimensions is fine.

Do you have some poster examples from previous years?

It is the first year that this event is organised. But do not conform to anything, just use the poster to convey the information that you would like the attendees to remember about your organisation, its expertise, and the experience it had that you think could inform others. 

I have a roll-up, is that ok?

Sure. Feel free to bring materials (flags, roll-up, banners, etc.) that best communicate about your organisation on. You will have the possibility to hang them on the poster panel or put them in front of it.

Is there any aesthetic to be followed (colors, font, etc)?

The aesthetic is totally up to you!

When is the deadline to send you the poster?
You are responsible for bringing your poster on the day of the event. We don't need to receive the poster prior.