(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Kuwait's Environment Public Authority (EPA) and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (NEA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen collaboration in the field of environment.
The MoU was signed on behalf of EPA by its acting general director Raja Buseiri, and on NEA's behalf by its director for international programmes, Bas Pulles.
NEA is part of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. It works in the Netherlands and abroad with governments, knowledge centres, international organizations to support innovative and international business, know-how and compliance with laws and regulations.
The signing ceremony was held in the city hall of Rotterdam on Thursday in the presence of Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, the ambassador of Kuwait to the Netherlands, Hafeez Al-Ajmi, and representatives from the Dutch Environmental Protection Agency, DCMR, and the Kuwait Petroleum Europoort (KPE) refinery in Rotterdam.
Speaking to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), after the signing ceremony, Aboutaleb said that during his visit to Kuwait last November, the Prime Minister of Kuwait was asked if the Kuwaiti government and the Kuwaiti society could use the knowledge and expertise of Netherlands on environmental protections in the ports and the industrial zone.
"We are happy today to announce the establishment of this collaboration. This means that officials from the Kuwait government will be trained in Rotterdam and also Dutch experts will visit Kuwait to advise on how to organize within the law and the legislation the connection between the environment and the production systems in the industry," he said.
He noted that the government has a role in enforcing the laws to protect the environment.
Aboutaleb is a Dutch politician of Moroccan origin who has been the Mayor of Rotterdam since 2009. He speaks fluent Arabic.
He underlined that the signing of the MoU reflects the "very good" relations between the Netherlands and Kuwait.
"I was very honoured to be received by His Highness the Prime Minister twice during my visit to Kuwait. This is a sign that cooperation is good on the high level and that the Kuwaiti government has interest in cooperation with the Netherlands," he told KUNA.
"We are a small nation but we are the 14th economy in the world and we have the biggest port in Europe in Rotterdam," he added.
On his part, ambassador Hafeez Al-Ajmi said "I am very happy to be present at the signing ceremony of the MoU."
"Kuwait is very interested to protect the environment and this agreement is a key between the two countries to boost cooperation in the future," he told KUNA.
"Relations between Kuwait and the Netherlands are developing and progressing. We are preparing for the visit of the first deputy prime minister and foreign minister in May to attend the ceremonies marking 50 years of Dutch-Kuwait diplomatic relations" he said and added that the Kuwaiti oil minister is also expected to visit the Netherlands soon. Buseiri said this agreement follows the visit of the mayor of Rotterdam to Kuwait last year.
"We have now a better cooperation with the Dutch environmental agency in which Kuwait seeks help in some of the projects in capacity building and also for a comprehensive inventory in the industrial areas of Kuwait," she said.
The MoU seeks full surveys for the Kuwait industrial areas plus the oil sector facilities and to build on the state- of- art data for Kuwait in this regard, she added.
On his part, Bas Pulles, said the MoU is part of the collaboration between Kuwait and the Netherlands also on energy sustainability.
"We also support government to government collaboration between both countries. In this case the collaboration is close to oil and chemicals and refinery industry. Kuwait has a big refinery in the Netherlands and there is a lot of Dutch interests in the construction sector and in safety issues around construction of refineries in Kuwait," he noted.
He said the MoU will strengthen the strong economic relations between the two countries by doing government to government collaboration in the area of environment protection.
Wael Salmeen, managing director of KPE said this MoU will enhance the cooperation between the two countries in the environmental sector.
"Kuwait and the Netherlands have a long history of cooperation in particular in the economic sector. The biggest investment Kuwait has in the Netherlands is the refinery. The turnover of the refinery is around USD four billion yearly," he told KUNA.
He noted that most of the commercial and trade exchanges between the Netherlands and Kuwait is coming from this refinery which buys Kuwait crude oil for USD two billion every year.
"And that is why the refinery plays a vital role in sustaining the economic cooperation between the two countries," he said.
"Our refinery always fulfills the environmental regulations as demanded by the Netherlands and the European Union. This agreement will help in promoting environment safety in Kuwait and it will also be an eye - opener for EPA itself to see how we run the refinery so that they can apply the same in Kuwait refineries," said Salmeen.
Maarten de Hoog, director port and industry in DCMR, said the purpose of the agreement is to help each other in the field of environment sustainability.
De Hoog told KUNA that he has visited Kuwait twice and there is a lot to do in the environment sector.
"I saw that the Kuwaiti people and the agencies are very much interested to invest in measures to clean the industry in Kuwait," he said.
"My agency is inspecting the Kuwaiti refinery in Rotterdam every month and we find that it is a good performer in the Netherlands and is in compliance with the regulations in the Netherlands," he added.
A five-member EPA delegation is on a week-long visit to the Netherlands.
On Wednesday, EPA signed another MoU with an institute called Deltares in the Dutch city of Delft.
Deltares will support EPA in areas that include knowledge relating to the sustainable management of urban areas, coastal zones and wetlands, and with the analysis and dissemination of knowledge and data about water quality and ecosystems in marine waters, coastal waters and groundwater.
Deltares is an independent, institute for applied research in the field of water, subsurface and infrastructure.
The delegation from Kuwait also visited a drinking water facility and the Sand Motor, a pilot project on coast protection, both situated on the coast of South Holland.