The world’s leading annual water event, World Water Week, will be revamped to help solve global problems after the pandemic. The week will be held on 23-27 August as a digital meeting place where people across the world join forces to tackle the climate crisis, food security, sanitation, and other urgent issues. From 25 January, convenors are invited to create sessions. New this year is a focus on solving five key challenges, which will run as a common thread through the programme. As water is rapidly becoming one of humanity’s greatest challenges, World Water Week is more important than ever as a platform for international cooperation. Water is also increasingly recognized as an instrumental force in addressing other threats such as the climate crisis and the pandemic. World Water Week 2021, therefore, has a crucial role to play and the organizers at Stockholm International Water Institute decided early to move this year’s conference online to ensure that it can take place despite the global pandemic.
More resilient societies
“With less than a decade to reach the sustainable development goals, address water shortages, halve carbon emissions, and reverse biodiversity loss, the world cannot afford business-as-usual, and that goes for us too. Because water is key to building more resilient societies, World Water Week needs to be more than a conference,” explains Henrika Thomasson, who leads the World Water Week and Communications team at Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).
World Water Week 2021 is based on the theme of Building Resilience Faster and has been designed to speed up concrete action. The programme is centred around five challenges that participants work together to solve but also focuses on factors that accelerate change. Through accelerator events, participants can strengthen their competence within key areas such as communication, behavioural change, leadership in business, innovation, and collaboration.
“This is a new way of thinking and absolutely necessary if we are to achieve fast transformations. Other sectors are undergoing exponential change and we need that perspective to drive resilience and sustainability,” Henrika Thomasson says. World Water Week 2021 will be co-created with leading international organizations holding different sessions. A Call for proposals opened 25 January. World Water Week, which dates back to 1991, was early in adopting this co-creation approach and the Week is still unusual in that it attracts participants from more than 130 countries and all sectors of society. The diversity is even growing year on year, as people with backgrounds in fields such as climate, food, energy, finance, and health join the water community that originally attended the yearly week in Stockholm.
“To create real change, we need to work across borders between countries, professions and academic fields. I am proud that World Water Week is known both as an informative and informal conference that people attend to expand their knowledge and their networks. This way, World Water Week can serve as a platform for the international collaboration that we urgently need,” says Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of SIWI.