We are water, you are water, I am water. Water equals life, in the broadest meaning of the word. The world needs water, and it needs solutions for water. Water is intrinsic for a true ecological life for all. If we look ahead to the challenges we face for an ever-lasting world, I notice a lot of doom and gloom. The challenges are huge, no doubt. However, what I find so enticing with having joined the IWA is the determination to get the veracious solutions in place. The IWA members are working on a wealth of solutions that address the overall sustainable agenda. Their disposition is one of ‘getting things done’. This gives me hope for the future.
What is the IWA? The IWA is the global network for water professionals around the world. It engages and partners with anyone concerned about the future of water. I joined the IWA last September, as Communications and Engagement Director. Though I have had water on my mind for a long time, it is now my daily framing. This is wonderful and stimulates my sense of purpose.
There are plenty of challenges for me in my new role here and I fully embrace them all. Working on the IWA Strategy 2014-2018 with my colleagues, our Board and our members will be both exciting and important to define the role of the IWA in the world of transition we live in.
As the Communications and Engagement Director I will be working with a new team. We will concentrate on digital and network engagement for the Association, and pro-active media relations outreach together with and on behalf of our members. We will also continue to grow the quality and effectiveness of the IWA events at network and learning opportunities worldwide. I am convinced that in order to live up the challenges for IWA, we will need to apply advanced communications and engagement thinking in our actual work plans. Hence, creating progress for water professionals and anyone concerned with the future of water.
Across the IWA, people from the water profession create progress on a daily basis – be it academics, people in utilities, government, business – to deliver new, different, and often ground-breaking solutions to provide water for the world. The IWA enables all those connections, for people to share, collaborate, learn and work on solutions.
We aim to produce solutions that are resilient and sustainable and that meet the urgent need for safe water within and beyond urban areas. The organisation obviously has its focus areas, through our Programme and our Specialist Groups. We recognise that breakthrough results are created across silos, which is why our members collaborate across various areas and the IWA works with organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and others.
This is clear from our ‘Basins of the Future’ programme, for example, in which we address the competing water demands of cities, industries and other water users. We developed a special initiative to work with people across the connecting worlds of water, energy and food. Those three areas cannot be addressed in isolation as they heavily interact and determine whether they will be sustainable in the future.
We work on practical solutions such as the implementation of the Human Right to water and sanitation. And in recognition of how technology will further impact the work done by water professionals, we see an increasing need to focus on Clean Tech; combining the best of renewable energy, ICT, and water and waste management.
At organisational level, the IWA is about inspiring change. We aim to do this by focussing on:
- Connecting people: we bring people of the highest calibre together to share knowledge, experience and know-how about the most pressing water challenges and innovative solutions
- Pioneering science: we contribute to water science and technology by helping scientists connect to their peers, publish their latest findings and help others learn with them
- Innovating technology: innovating technologies are key to changing the future of water and offer support and recognition to innovators in the world of water
- Leading practice: we develop and promote best practices and international frameworks and standards, supporting transitions to sustainable practices.
The IWA is continuously adapting itself to align with and leverage the ever-changing world we work in. I believe that the kind of changes that are needed for a lasting sustainable world are only possible when work at individual level is connected with work at macro level. IWA acts at both these levels and in many cases builds the bridges between them.
In this new (net-) working environment I find myself surrounded by wonderful colleagues. And the people I have met so far at and through the IWA have been tremendously inspiring. Our members have an amazing amount of both experience and vision for water solutions. I sense a joint courage that we will co-create water solutions to secure a sustainable life for all. Together we aim to inspire change.