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.

Image credit: AMISON Public Information

Kicking off on 26th August, the opening seminar focuses on Tapping into collective wisdom – Gender sensitive development and water ecosystems. The intention of the seminar is to move beyond discussions on the intrinsic links between women and water, to consider wider GESI (gender equality and social inclusion) issues linked to SDG 5 and SDG 10. The seminar will elaborate on interventions that capitalise on indigenous and gender-specific knowledge in Southern Africa, Asia and South America. It will also unpack how such thinking contributes to innovative and sustainable social and technical approaches for water ecosystems enhancement and conservation.

The seminar is co-convened by the Women for Water Partnership, UNESCO’s World Water Assessment Programme and the Australian Water Partnership – with keynote speeches from AMCOW’s Executive Secretary and WaterAid Australia’s Equality and Inclusion Lead, and contributions from IUCN, WaterLex, WWF and Tanzania’s Gender Networking Programme. Given 26th August is the only day that young water professionals can attend the conference free of charge, the seminar’s key messages are targeted at them – with a view to equipping them with practical actions, tools, and policies that should be taken up and championed in their own work.

Caroline Brown will be representing Pegasys at WWW. She is the Young Scientific Programme Committee member responsible for organising the opening seminaras well as co-presenting key messages from the conference at the Closing Plenary with SIWI. Look out for a follow-up blog in the next week, where we’ll discuss key outtakes of the seminars and panel discussions.