Opening of the First National Meeting for Building the Stakeholders’ Network

Speech by ambassador Dewi van de Weerd

Today the First National Meeting for Building the Stakeholders’ Network was held with the participation of different actors from central government, businesses, NGOs and academia.

Ambassador Dewi van de Weerd greeted the participants and highlighted the importance of collaboration between partners and the contribution Albania will give in innovations. 

BRIGAID Innovation Cycle

"As Darwin said, it is not the strongest but the species most adaptable to change, that will survive. This, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what BRIGAID is about. Bridging the gap for Innovations in climate Disaster resilience. I commend the AKPT for having organised today’s roundtable.

Why is this relevant for Albania?  Expected climate change effects in Albania include increasing air temperatures, more extreme events, like floods and droughts and storms. There will be direct and indirect socio-economic impacts on sectors such as: tourism, settlements, agriculture, freshwater supply and quality, fisheries, financial services and human health.

Two years ago, when I was approached by TU Delft, I felt it would be great to have Albanian institutions involved in the BRIGAID programme because of two main reasons: Firstly, BRIGAID could serve as a sound bridge between innovators and end users. I was triggered by the concept of an online interactive platform, that presents innovations and connects innovators, end users, qualified investors and fiscal advisors throughout Europe. Innovative solutions can be hampered by a lack of involvement of communities. Therefore, social involvement is best not left as a filter at the end of the development of a technology, but it should accompany and provide input to the choices made along the way. Secondly, BRIGAID is another bridge between the Netherlands, Albania and other projects partners operating in this field. In fact, the project has already started to build valuable professional contacts. Several project activities, such as: testing and demonstrating innovations in test basins in the Netherlands (Flood Proof Holland) and in “operational” environments in Albania (Berat, Shkodra, Durres and Lezha), will intensify such ties.

The Netherlands is currently implementing disaster risk reduction recommendations from a Dutch expert team done after the fierce floods of February 2015. Together with the National Water Secretariat, who are a BRIGAID Board member, we are working on the setting up of a water knowledge academy. Again we are hoping to contribute to one of the conslusions made for Albania from the UNFCCC Report:

“Capacity building and investment in research is required to ensure integration into the European Research Area and contribute to the Innovation Union.”

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), the coordinating institution of this project is more present in Albania with knowledge exchange. Around 10 Albanian professionals have recently carried out their post-graduate studies at TU Delft and we notice a growing interest.

As you might know, the Netherlands is a frontrunner in innovation and creative industries, especially related to climate change. My government took up the challenge to accelerate climate adaptation actions. It’s quite clear that we have to, two-thirds of the Netherlands is below sea level. Large part of the country consists of polders, land won back from the sea. Poldering is actually a Dutch expression for different institutions that need to cooperate well together.

Let me give you an example. In coordination with UN Environment and Japan, The Netherlands will lead the establishment of a Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation. This Centre will address the growing need for support among countries, institutions and businesses dealing with climate change adaptation issues, such as natural disasters, contributing to build a climate resilient world. I hope it can also be useful for you here.

To fuel today’s discussion, let me highlight two issues that I believe are of special interest for both the Dutch and the Albanian side:

  • We are keen to see what kind of innovations Albania will feed into this programme.
  • How do you envisage to translate the needs of the Albanian end-users to BRIGAID’s innovations when it comes to the three major hazard categories: floods, droughts and extreme weather.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a lot of work ahead of us when it comes to climate change and bridging the gap for innovations in disaster resilience. But it will be worth it. I am eager to see innovations tried out here or new Albanian water innovations come to live in the near future."