The IWA-IDB Innovation Conference on Sustainable Use of Water: Cities, Industry and Agriculture (30 September – 2 October) features a wide range of innovations and strategies to improve sustainable use of water across cities, industry and agriculture – from insightful explanations to critical present issues such as the fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest to future thinking regarding the use of new digital technologies that can enhance watershed awareness and environmental protection such as technology-augmented river basins.
The IWA-IDB Innovation Conference on Sustainable Use of Water: Cities, Industry and Agriculture is the first multidisciplinary event bringing together water and sanitation professionals, industry, farmers, policy-makers, regulators, financial institutions, indigenous peoples, environmental and cultural associations, consultants and technology vendors to stimulate pathways for action to radically transform the way we, collectively, use water.
Water as a unitary resource
Water underpins every aspect of life in this planet – from the food we eat to the clothes we wear to the businesses we create and to the ecosystems that sustain us. Water is as much of a connector between human activities as it is a reflection of our interdependences. Dams built in one country reduce river flows to downstream countries for years afterwards, affecting hydroelectric and irrigation capacity. When a city overexploits groundwater, it contributes to land subsidence that results in an increase of flood hazards.
When industry contaminates surface water, it can pollute groundwater supplies as well. If farmers overexploit groundwater supplies to critical levels, serious global food shortages or spikes in price could ensue. And every time it rains, fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste from farms and livestock operations wash nutrients and pathogens into our waterways.
“Water is not only inside us, but one of our most powerful interconnections with other human beings and the environment, says Cheryl Davis, Chair of IWA’s Specialist Group on Sustainability in the Water Sector. “How much water we use and how we use it—whether in cities or rural areas, for agriculture, or for industry—affects how much water is available to others, and whether that water will help them or harm them. Because our current patterns of water use are putting us and future generations at risk, we have a shared responsibility to be innovative now.”
The conference aims at stirring discussions and practical tactics to increase incentives for sustainable water use across the largest water consuming sectors, while devising strategies to minimize barriers that currently impede progress in advancing towards a cyclical model of consumption and the frugal innovation concept of doing more with less.
“The effects of climate change, with increasingly severe and frequent floods in some areas and with prolonged droughts in some others, are impacting our economy and our population. We need to incorporate effective innovative solutions that address the needs of the population first, if we want to secure sustainable drinking water and adequate sludge management for our citizens”, said Sergio Campos, Chief of the Water and Sanitation Division at the Inter-American Development Bank.
“The main objective of this conference is to initiate a learning environment for water professionals, by connecting local and global experts from education, research, private sector and government”, says Peter Goethals, Professor at the University of Ghent. “We can learn from the diverse cultures and available expertise, and therefore a key element of the conference is also to setup a sustainable network of water professionals via a national IWA chapter and Young Water Professionals group.”
The Sustainable Development Goals call for innovation in the way policies, technologies, practices, finances and partnerships should pull together to achieve solutions to the many interdependent and cross-cutting challenges facing humanity.
The IWA-IDB Innovation Conference on Sustainable Use of Water: Cities, Industry and Agriculture features a wide range of experts from all areas of the water and sustainability sectors. Thought leaders speaking at the Congress include:
- Dave Archambault, Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies
- Sergio Campos, Water and Sanitation Division chief at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
- Cheryl Davis, IWA Specialist Group on Sustainability in the Water Sector
- Peter Goethals, Professor in Applied Water Ecology and Sustainable Water Management at Ghent University
- Paula Kehoe, Director of Water Resources with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
- Oliver Maennicke, IWA Specialist Group on Sustainability in the Water Sector
- Juan Pablo Mariluz Silva, Autoridad Nacional del Agua
- Alexis Morgan, Global Water Stewardship Lead, WWF
- Jason Morrison, Pacific Institute & CEO Water Mandate
- Sudhir Murthy, IWA Senior Vice-President and Chief for DC Water
- Cecilia A. Paredes, President of ESPOL
- Will Sarni, Founder and CEO Water Foundry
The conference is organised by the International Water Association (IWA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) under the coordination of the IWA Sustainability in the Water Sector Specialist Group, and with the collaboration of Ghent University, Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral (Espol), Asociación Latinoamericana de Desalación y Reuso de Agua (Aladyr), Vlir Network Ecuador, Cemdes, SGS, Isle Utilities, and the municipality of Guayaquil.