With over 3000 delegates from +140 countries, including a large contingent of young professionals, World Water Week (WWW) is the biggest global water conference held in Stockholm each year. This year’s ‘Water, ecosystems and human development’ theme shows an encouraging move away from preceding WWW themes, where the focus was largely on technological advancements in WASH and waste. It reflects an important shift from the highly water-centric discussions that have dominated water dialogues and conferences to date. Practitioners, academics and the public sector are recognising the importance of identifying and adopting socio-economic and nature-based development solutions if SDG 6 is to be achieved by 2030.
The theme is underpinned by several key seminar topics – which speak to a range of issues, including innovative financing mechanisms, sustainable infrastructure solutions, and the value of traditional/indigenous ecological knowledge. It also highlights the critical role of private sector industries in preserving ecosystems, acknowledging that the public sector alone cannot address the complex challenge of meeting growing global water demands whilst maintaining the integrity of the natural resource base. Collectively, these topics will attract a diverse range of stakeholders beyond the traditional water sector. This is aimed at eliciting more strategic, holistic solutions to integrated water ecosystems development.