It was a long time coming, but it was certainly worth the wait. Our Copenhagen World Water Congress & Exhibition was everything I had hoped for: an outstanding programme, inspiring speakers, a bustling exhibition hall, and an excited and engaged global water community in attendance.
Despite the packed schedule, weariness was evidently not a concern. Our hunger to reconnect and the energy generated gave us stamina to keep going right through to a wonderful finale at the Gala Dinner.
There were many highlights and contributions – too many to list and acknowledge here. But special thanks must go to our Congress President, Anders Bækgaard, to DANVA COO, Helle Katrine Andersen, and to the entire Danish Host Committee for their sustained efforts over many years. Working with our Programme Committee and the IWA Events team, led by Kizito Masinde, the result was a huge success, reflected in there being the greatest number of delegates ever at an IWA event.
As we return to our day jobs, one can ask: ‘What next?’ The answer comes in two parts. One, from an IWA perspective, is that there is plenty happening; the other however is: ‘But it’s all up to you.’
IWA is much more than one biennial conference. Throughout the year, our Specialist and Task Groups hold meetings, publish, and collaborate online, undertake projects and exchange ideas.
Our specialist conferences allow for deep subject dives, while we highlight trends and issues to drive the global water agenda through events such as the upcoming Digital Water Summit or the Leading-Edge Technology series.
The Young Water Professionals network has grown in such numbers and strength that it has the potential to be our largest member segment – a passionate cohort that signals a vibrant future for our Association and the water sector.
And whether it is through our online channels, The Source magazine, or the publications and journals available through IWA Publishing, IWA members can share latest thinking from around the world.
On the point that ‘it’s all up to you’, to begin with, the IWA activities mentioned above all, of course, depend on the energy and commitment of our members.
Looking at further possibilities, we can reflect on two key initiatives announced in Copenhagen: an endowment fund for young water leaders, supported by founding donors Glen and Patty Daigger; and an initiative for YWPs to participate in next year’s UN water meeting, which is being supported by Grundfos.
“Our challenge is to take one or two of the lessons learned or ideas imparted, and to implement them”
More generally, at a personal level, each of us will have taken away ideas, new connections and, hopefully, a renewed commitment to contributing to a world in which water is wisely, sustainably and equitably managed. Our challenge, as everyday demands reassert themselves, is to take one or two of the lessons learned or ideas imparted, and to implement them.
I recall late night television advertisements where the infomercial host, after telling you all about the great product they’re selling, would say: “But wait, there’s more.” For IWA, our focus on water is worthy of primetime viewing. IWA provides a fantastic platform, and I am sure members will each provide their own response to the ‘it’s up to you’. So, if you are wondering what is next after such a great Congress, I know I can confidently add: “But wait, there’s more.”
Tom Mollenkopf, President, IWA