The key task of the Special Envoy for International Water Affairs involves economic diplomacy: as the ambassador for the Dutch water sector, Mr Ovink is responsible for maintaining good relations with foreign governments, knowledge institutions, umbrella organisations, coordinating and representative bodies, the business community and civil society organisations. He establishes connections with the other relevant top sectors (energy, agriculture, the creative industry). He collaborates closely with Dutch Embassies, Consulates and Permanent Representatives. He also maintains direct contact with bilateral and multilateral actors such as the World Bank, the United Nations, the OECD and the EU. He attends international water meetings, if need be as a representative of the Ministers.
Mr Ovink previously held the position of Deputy Director-General of Spatial Planning and Water Affairs at the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, and Director of National Spatial Development. Mr Ovink currently serves as a senior advisor to the American Federal Government and the former Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Taskforce instituted by President Obama. For the reconstruction of the New York and New Jersey region, he developed and lead the ‘Rebuild by Design’ contest, which CNN designated as one of the most innovative ideas of 2013. Currently, 15 Dutch companies and organisations are working on the implementation of the winning projects.
Mr Ovink has a long record of service in the business community, education and the government in the fields of spatial planning, water management and culture. Among other activities, he has served as Curator to the 5th International Architecture Bienniale Rotterdam, he sits on the International Advisory Board of the city of Rotterdam, he teaches at Harvard GSD and he advises the Rockefeller Foundation regarding their approach to resilience and water safety.