We are living in a world where 1.8 billion people do not have access to safe water and 2.5 billion people lack adequate sanitation. The global water demand is going to be increased by 55 per cent by the year 2050 due to rising water use in manufacturing industry, electricity generation and households. "Water for Development" was the theme of this year's World Water Week held from 23rd August to 28th August in Stockholm. Stockholm International Water Institute organised the 25th World Water Week. As a member of Swedish Institute Network of Future Global Leaders, I had the opportunity to attend the prestigious event of the year.
The silver jubilee of the event was celebrated with plenary sessions, workshops, special events, exhibitions and field trips. The conference covered a wide range of aspects such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), drinking water and sanitation, climate change, rain water harvesting, water security, trans-boundary water issues, hydro diplomacy, water pricing and some other topics. The common achievements in global water relevant issues in the last 25 years and how we should consider the challenges linked to the UN processes for sustainable water development in the coming years were discussed in the conference. The inspirational speech on "our time on earth" encouraged the audience to take bold and decisive actions for sustainable water resource management. There were also sessions on importance of holistic urban planning in the context of post-2015 development agenda and how we can ensure water and sanitation for all by eliminating inequalities. The workshops dealt with a good number of water relevant issues such as the measures and tools needed to implement water goal of the new SDGs; the need for an integrated water management approach that combines innovations in governance and planning, science and technology and large and small-scale solutions; how information technologies can be used to achieve water and energy efficiency; the role of water to contribute to eradication of extreme poverty and sustainable and equitable development; how we can meet growing water demand for food, energy, urbanisation and other human needs while maintaining productive, resilient freshwater ecosystems, etc. The organizations such as Sida, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, JICA, WWF-International, WaterAid, Swiss Water Partnership, UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, Wash Innovation, Earth Watch and many other international organizations displayed their projects relevant to safe access to drinking water, water management and treatment, sanitation, etc. How the local communities are getting benefits from their projects in different parts of the world were also highlighted in the exhibition sites of the conference during the whole week.
The programme also offered activities for young professionals, who got a platform there to connect themselves with one another and present their ideas and projects in a wide range of topics such as connecting youth in water issues, technological innovations and new media and promotion of youth in development. The study visit to House of Science, a leading resource of inspiration and knowledge in Stockholm, was inspiring for us. It increased our interests in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The visitors took part in hands-on activities like waste management and water purification. The role model of this year's water week was Rajendra Singh of India. He was named the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for his innovative water restoration efforts and contribution to ensure water security for rural India through showing extraordinary determination to improve the living conditions of the rural people.
The week ended with a closing plenary, where speakers discussed different perspectives of how the sustainable water resource management linked to coherent, efficient implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and anticipated global climate agreement. They also spoke about the importance of development agenda and climate agreement to solve water-related challenges. The programme was an amazing opportunity for me to learn new concepts and ideas regarding water issues through interacting with experts and policy makers working in water relevant fields. I also came to know about future work scope and collaboration options. A water walk, royal banquet and dances made the event more colourful.
The writer was a participant at the World Water Week-2015 and is currently pursuing a Master in Environmental Science at the University of Stockholm as a Swedish Institute Fellow.