SECRETARY OF State for International Development Clare Short's official ministerial delegation in March to the Second World Water Forum in The Hague, the Netherlands, included ICE President Professor George Fleming.
This is believed to be the first time an ICE President has been a member of an official ministerial delegation - a breakthrough Fleming attributes to the work he has done on building up relationships between the ICE and the Department for International Development.
'Four out of the eight core team supporting the minister were civil engineers, ' Fleming reported later.
'This included the chief engineering adviser John Hodges.'
Ministerial delegations from 148 countries attended the forum, which consisted of two parallel conferences - one ministerial, one open - and a trade fair. In all, more than 4,500 delegates travelled to The Hague, making the forum the biggest assembly devoted to water issues, Fleming said.
Several key decisions were taken at the forum, not least the acknowledgement of the need for more dams in countries like Mozambique, Nepal and Bangladesh.
'There were demonstrations against dams at the start of the meeting but the mood of the delegates was clearly in favour of dams where the need was paramount, ' Fleming said.
'Another breakthrough was the acknowledgement that no Third World country could afford to finance essential improvements in water supply and sanitation on its own. The private sector has to be involved.'
But the President admitted to disappointment at the poor turn-out of major British companies at the associated trade fair. 'There were plenty of UK delegates to the conference but the fair was dominated by Dutch and French companies, which had a good opportunity to promote their wares to delegates from all over the world, ' Fleming said.