We’ve seen the SunGlacier project grow from a concept of ice and a waterfall in the desert, to a sculpture-fountain, to mobile units testing with the Dutch in Mali, to making rain from the at the Dutch pavilion in Dubai Expo 2020. Where is the project now?
We have started building an industrial prototype that can produce up to 2,000 liters of water per day. The new machine fits inside a 7 meter-long shipping container, and can produce from 1,000 up to 2,000L of water per day, primarily for agricultural use, including greenhouse production. There is also a smaller version for producing drinking water for people at a volume of around 35L per day.
We are working with a company specialized in machinery production so that they can be produced in series. This could be the start of a huge scaling up for our project. We’ve received so many inquiries from people in water stressed areas – even close to the Netherlands. There are droughts happening now in Europe that people have not seen in history. To survive, we have to be innovative, because there are no fixed solutions to water crises right now.
Tell about your recent win of the “Over the Hoop” prize and what it means to you and SunGlacier.
The prize is really an award for someone who does their best to get things running better in society. It’s a huge honor that after 10 years of working on the project that we were chosen from about 130 nominees. This gives a boost not only to me, but I think to everyone who is involved in the project. Over the Hoop is awarded by a Dutch association connected to the art and museum world that focuses on society. We received quite a lot of media coverage as a result. This is good because the inspiration to people can be more widespread and continue by reaching audiences that we would not otherwise touch.
What are some of the main challenges you see with water and environment in the next 50 years, and how do we have a better chance of solving them?
As you can see outside, the climate is changing so fast that it is not linear, but exponential. Our attention to the challenges needs to be at equal speed. When you look ahead 50 years, we don’t have time to start tomorrow – but today for our immediate future. We can still move forward, but we need to change very fast, and I think the message that drives this change must be positive so that people don’t give up during a time when positive change can happen.
What drives you to work on water projects outside of your art?
Last week I spoke at a meeting of a truly brilliant group of mathematician scientists who were working on transport systems. I saw at the same time, that they were in fact working on a huge project to reduce CO2 emissions without really being aware of it. When the transport routes are more direct, emissions are reduced. We came into a discussion that their work is important for the planet’s future. By the time I left, it seemed that they had a boost in their enthusiasm.
I see my value in bringing hope and new ideas that can be developed from people. It’s really a creative process to harness the right enthusiasm and move ahead. New solutions may not work at the first or second attempt, but don’t put your ideas to sleep.
How would you describe your collaboration with EJWP?
EJWP helps address something I’ve seen too often: When someone starts their professional work, and continue then they think it’s great. Around then comes a promotion in their company, and they like it at first… until a certain moment they realize that they are so far from where they started working and what they aimed at, that they cannot step down – or backward – to return to the core of what drives them. Top decision makers in the sector are missing some of the root enthusiasm.
It’s important from the start for young professionals with drive and talent to become experts in their fields instead of becoming managers of bureaucracies. EJWP is working along these lines to better develop talent -and- you learn to become a more socially-professionally skilled human being. EJWP is a good initiative that helps a mind switch toward experiences that are further than one’s own current field of work. It’s like communication is very important, not only through computer, but human interaction. I am always am excited to help young people find a new road to the future, like a big part of my contribution to EJWP is helping show participants different aspects of their own potential.