In addition, the Netherlands and Bangladesh will join forces in the fields of land reclamation and port development.
The agreement signed by ministers Lilianne Ploumen (foreign trade and development cooperation) and Melanie Schultz van Haegen (infrastructure and the environment) is with the Bangladesh government and the World Bank.
The Bangladesh flats - the largest delta in Asia and the most densely populated delta in the world - are facing major water issues.
The collaboration is to result in the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, a long-term vision comprising technical solutions, as well as an investment plan. The plan is intended to contribute to Bangladesh’s aim of becoming a mid-income country by 2021.
Schultz said: “At first sight, the water challenges in the Netherlands and Bangladesh are similar: low-lying, densely populated delta countries, with major rivers flowing out into the sea, comprehensive migration into the cities, a strategic position vis-à-vis the hinterland. The scale and the complexity of the issues are, however, not comparable. Nonetheless, more intensive collaboration will benefit both countries.”
Ploumen added: "A delta plan only works if everyone is involved. The Netherlands, being a polder country, already has considerable experience in this regard, but in Bangladesh overall involvement is not yet a matter of course. The very poorest, and women in particular, hardly have a say. This really calls for improvement.”
Two-thirds of Bangladesh lies within the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta. The partnership between the Bangladesh government, the Netherlands, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private branch of the 2030 Water Resources Group, will facilitate the sharing of expertise and information between the participating governments and the World Bank. The agreement builds upon a collaborative agreement between Bangladesh and the Netherlands dating from 2012.
Schultz said: “Key words are prevention and long-term planning. In the Netherlands, we command 800 years of experience. It is my personal mission to put Dutch knowledge and expertise into action worldwide in order to make countries more resilient. And conversely, we can learn a great deal from the circumstances in other countries.”
Over the past decades, the Bangladesh government has invested more than US$10bn (£6.4bn) to make the country less vulnerable to natural disasters. River dykes have been strengthened, emergency shelters have been constructed where people can shelter during cyclones and warning systems have been set up. These efforts have significantly reduced the number of casualties, damage to the living environment and the material damage resulting from extreme weather conditions.