IWA World Water Congress: From the Perspective of a YWP

From September 12 to 15, 2022, Copenhagen hosted the IWA World Water Congress, which included keynote speeches, an industrial plenary, and technical talks. The ambition of the Congress was to bring together multi-disciplinary professionals from the water industry to discuss issues pertaining to sustainability and the development of sustainable cities. Copenhagen was the prime location, with the aim of becoming a water-wise city that involves building infrastructure to manage stormwater. This city has the world’s first city-wide plan for a stormwater management system for a 100-year storm. Copenhagen is also prized for having recreational swimming in the harbour in the city centre. With Denmark having strong collaborations with Sweden and Finland, these countries were also present in the industrial plenary.

The conference opened with a keynote speech from Prof. Jason Box, who presented his research on Rapid Arctic Climate Change. Considering that loss from Greenland ice sheets is one of the largest contributors to the risk of sea-level rise, his speech emphasized the urgency of water management. The week continued with a stand-out keynote speech from Prof. Dawn Martin-Hill (Mohawk, Wolf Chan). She presented her findings on the impact of water insecurity on First Nations Communities in Canada along with highlighting the value of Traditional Ecological Knowledge. She then opened the panel discussion with a traditional water ceremony, whereby each Indigenous panelist brought water from their own region. The findings of the session were that not only do indigenous communities have similar experiences across the globe of inhumanity, but also have valuable knowledge and cultural history that can contribute to solving global water crises. 

YWP Dr. Inês Breda represented, on behalf of Dr. Farokh Kakar, giving a motivational keynote speech where she emphasized the barriers faced, but also the passion of YWPs. The Congress also gave YWPs the opportunity to chair technical sessions.The session that I chaired was on Wastewater epidemiology: SARS-CoV-2 which included impressive talks on how SARS-CoV-2 wastewater data relates to hospital occupancies and on the successful monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in non-sewered areas. It was noted that not all countries had the resources to sequence their wastewater samples. Being the only technology to detect new variants of concern, the cost and technical complexity of sequencing limit the implementation of wastewater epidemiology on a global scale. Although the cost of genomic sequencing has been greatly reduced in the last two decades, more needs to be done to improve the accessibility of the technology for wastewater epidemiology to prevent the next outbreak.

On the final day of the conference, the baton was passed to Canada as Toronto will be hosting IWA 2024 World Water Congress. 

Written by Alexandra Tsitouras

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