Henk Ovink is the Executive Director and founding Commissioner for the Global Commission on the Economics of Water. The Commission, initiated by the Netherlands Government, was set up in May 2022 with the goal to transform the world’s understanding of the economics and governance of water, placing a much stronger emphasis on equity, justice, effectiveness, and democracy. This will complete a sustainability trilogy that began with the 2006 Stern Review on the economics of climate change, and the 2021 Dasgupta Review on the economics of biodiversity.

Henk Ovink was the first ever global water ambassador for over 8 years, appointed in 2015 by the Dutch Cabinet as Special Envoy for International Water Affairs. In this capacity co-leading the second UN Water Conference in 2023, the first since 1977, he helped bring the world together in New York, with more than 10.000 people from every continent, background, and profession. Together they showed the world that water matters for all and everything, that it stands for something much bigger than our individual and institutional divides. The world committed to over 800 actions, across geographies in local to global coalitions for a water secure world for all.

As the Ambassador for Water, Henk was responsible for advocating water awareness around the world, building institutional capacity and coalitions amongst governments, multilateral organizations, private sector and NGO’s, and initiating innovate approaches like Water as Leverage and actively engaging with, supporting and empowering young water-professionals and -youth to address the world's stressing needs on water.

Henk served on President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force where he led the long-term innovation, resilience, and rebuilding efforts. He developed and led the ‘Rebuild by Design’ competition and initiated the National Disaster Resilience Competition.

Before joining the Task Force Ovink was both Acting Director General of Spatial Planning and Water Affairs and Director National Spatial Planning for the Netherlands after multiple roles in the private sector, from his own start-up for planning, design, and innovation.

Henk holds an honorary doctorate at Delft University “for his pioneering work on transformative design for climate change, and for his leadership in communicating and practicing the importance of water for peaceful global co-existence”. He is affiliated to the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes at Columbia University’s GSAPP and Climate School and is lecturer at the University of Groningen. His book - written together with Jelte Boeijenga - “Too Big. Rebuild by Design: A Transformative Approach to Climate Change” explores his climate and water work for the Obama Administration.

In 2023 Henk Ovink was the 10th recipient of the Foreign Affairs Decoration of Honor in Gold, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for his unique and outstanding water diplomacy work and leadership. At the World Urban Forum in February 2020 Henk was awarded the IHS Urban Professional Award 2020. And in 2018 Henk Ovink was awarded for his ‘transformative global water work’ an honorary membership from the Royal Institute of Engineers of the Netherlands.