Henk Ovink

Professional Title: Special Envoy for International Water Affairs

Industry: Government Administration

Currently with: Kingdom of the Netherlands, Hurrican Sandy Rebuilding Task Force / US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Previously with: Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu, Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment, IABR

THNK Connection: Forum Guest


Henk Ovink is Principal of ‘Rebuild by Design’ and Senior Advisor to both the former US Presidential Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the White House Director of the Office of Management and Budget.


He leads the long term innovation, resilience and rebuilding efforts. Henk started, developed, and leads the ‘Rebuild by Design’ competition (RBD). RBD is developed to ignite innovation for a new standard of regional resilience in design and development, in building and rebuilding in the light of climate change, sea level rise and future economic, ecological and cultural demands. RBD was named #1 in CNN’s 2013 top 10 of most innovative ideas.


Henk was both Acting Director General of Spatial Planning and Water Affairs and Director National Spatial Planning for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He teaches at Harvard GSD, Syracuse University SoA, TU Delft and the University of Groningen. He is member of the International Advisory Board for the City of Rotterdam and member of the advisory boards for MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism, The Berlage Institute, the Eindhoven University of Technology Faculty of Architecture and of the Master City Developer Rotterdam.


Henk is member of the Urban Age Program within LSE Cities, an international center at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was curator for the 5th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2012.