World Water Week 2022 closed last week with a forward-looking prompt: what’s next? During the past eight days, the value of water and the unseen water has been in focus. In 2023, the spotlight for the conference will be on innovation in water.
World Water Week 2022 has seen over 5,000 participants from more than 150 countries take part online and on-site. The conference has had a record number of first-time visitors, of women and of people under 35, all a testament to the increasing understanding of water being a key component of a sustainable future.
Some of the key messages coming out of the conference are:
1. There are more solutions than most people think. World Water Week 2022 has demonstrated a broad range of concrete ideas that could greatly reduce the impact of droughts, floods, and storms across the world, including investments in sanitation, regenerative farming, water-smart city planning, early-warning systems, and watershed restoration, to name but a few. Often, what is needed is political will and increased investments.
2. Water needs to be at the top of the global agenda. There is growing recognition that we will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without profound and inclusive transformations. Water is essential to all the goals, which is why it is so important that World Water Week is increasingly becoming a conference about water for people rather than a conference for water people. The climate conference COP 27 in November, the biodiversity conference COP 15 in December, and the United Nations Water Conference in March 2023 will all be of crucial importance.
3. We need a new relationship with nature. Biodiversity, ecosystems and the role of the water cycle is increasingly understood and high-lighted. One important growing trend is to view water holistically, recognizing the connection between land-based, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. It also means that the source-to-sea approach to management is rapidly gaining more traction.
Explaining why, in 2023, the World Water Week theme will be innovation, Torgny Holmgren, executive director of Stockholm International Water Institute, organizer of World Water Week, said:
“The topic of innovation in water is very much needed, and it feels like the logical next step after the discussions we have had this year about the value of water. There is no quick fix to the climate and water crisis or any of the other problems we are facing. We need profound transformations of all sectors of society – food, energy, water – and that will require new kinds of innovations. World Water Week 2023 will be about fostering this new thinking about what innovation really is and what it can be.”
World Water Week 2023 will be held in Stockholm 27 August – 1 September 2023.