In 2015 and 2016, two remarkable years, the global community entered into a new global commitment: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The overarching Sustainable Development Goals capture and aggregate the goals and ambitions of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, the Paris Climate Agreement on combatting climate change and implementing adaptation, and the New Urban Agenda, which focuses on sustainable and inclusive urban development. These agreements and objectives express, at least on paper, the shared global commitment to make this world a better place!
Our main challenge, now, is to put these global commitments into practice. Across geographical scales, a new sense of urgency, new forms of imagination and new coalitions of the willing are needed to bridge interests and create concerted action in the right direction. Over time, water has proven to be an inspiring connector between various interests and a true source of collaboration rather than of conflict. The history of the Netherlands as a delta region has shown that water —in each of its socio-ecological landscapes and as part of river basins, delta cities, newly emerging metropolises and drylands— can be the basis for bridging interests, overcoming lock-ins and building a shared and sustainable future; creating a new geography of opportunities.
We hope that the research presented here in this imaginative storyboard will help increase awareness of the urgent need to tackle the challenges ahead. In the coming decades, there will only be a small window of opportunity for realizing the necessary transformation towards a world that is sustainable, inclusive and climate-proof.