“To innovate, we need mechanisms that bring all parties to the table”
Dr. Blanca Antizar, European Director of Isle Utilities and Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor at UCL, looked at how to promote innovation in the water and sanitation sector in Latin America and the Caribbean at a panel on sustainable and digital infrastructure at the IDB Group's Annual Assembly earlier this month. Blanca outlined the barriers to innovation in the sector as well as examples where innovation is succeeding.
Professor Antizar highlighted the importance of aligning the digital transformation with the transition to a green economy, integrating start-up technologies, and promoting a more diverse workforce to achieve sustainable and inclusive infrastructure in the region.
Professor Antizar emphasized the need for innovation in the water and sanitation sector in Latin America and the role of the IDB as a fundamental partner in promoting a more diverse workforc
Blanca Antizar, European Director of Isle Utilities and Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor at UCL Civil Environmental and Geomatics Engineering, recently participated in the Sustainable and Inclusive Infrastructure and Regional Integration seminar at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), under a panel on "The Imperative of Sustainable and Digital Infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean" at the IDB Group's Annual Assembly that was held in Panama, from 16 to 19 March 2023. The panel discussed the importance of adopting green technologies and digitised solutions to enable affordable, resilient, and inclusive services, particularly in a context where private sector investment and innovation are crucial.
During her speech, Professor Antizar emphasized the need for innovation in the water and sanitation sector in Latin America and the role of the IDB as a fundamental partner in promoting a more diverse workforce in the digital economy. She highlighted the importance of aligning digital transformation with the transition to a green economy and integrating technologies brought by startups into water and sanitation services.
“To generate energy we need water, and to treat water we need energy. We need to consider both things”
Professor Antizar stated the need to work jointly to improve water and energy infrastructure and outlined the common barriers to innovation during the session, referring to the need to improve understanding and support for innovation from top down in the sector, improving the processes that facilitate innovation. Blanca also stressed the urgency of reducing the time between testing and adoption of technologies and addressing the gender gap in digital technologies in the sector. She referred to a project supported by “Fuente de Innovacion,” an alliance of the IDB Group for innovation in the sector, which promotes the adoption of technologies through the innovative financing instrument Isle’s Trial Reservoir.
“Innovation is strengthened by having a diverse workforce”
Blanca mentioned the need to boost the number of women in the sector, emphasising the need to support girls to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at school, to enable a more diverse sector.
Those interested can watch Professor Antizar's session in English or Spanish on the IDB Group's channel in English or Spanish (at minutes 15:39, 45:55, and 1:01:47). Blanca´s second intervention is also available here on the Isle YouTube channel. Her contributions shed light on the importance of sustainable and inclusive infrastructure and regional integration, and the need for urgent action to accelerate the adoption of green technologies and digitalization solutions in Latin America and the Caribbean.
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The original version of this article appeared here