On 15 November 2018, Rotterdam is the place where leading international parties take stock. What do we need to accomplish in the year ahead? And how should we tackle that? The AIWW Summit promises to be a highly worthwhile milestone in the run-up to the Amsterdam International Water Week Conference in November 2019. AIWW chair Menno Holterman looks ahead.

‘The AIWW Summit 2018 and the AIWW Conference 2019 stand for the ‘Implementation of integrated solutions for cities, industry, utilities with finance.’ There was substantial enthusiasm for meeting in the year between the two editions of the Amsterdam International Water Week to find out where we stand on each of these themes. What progress has been made on the Amsterdam Agreements signed in 2017 and concerning the concrete solutions that we mutually outlined in Amsterdam? From there, we have to move forward; therefore, we collectively set the agenda for the AIWW Conference in 2019. Of course, resilient cities and the circular economy will also be important themes in Rotterdam, just like water and finance. We want to expand these themes and, where necessary, refine them.

Beyond cities, industry, utilities and finance, we also focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for water (goal 6) and climate & partnerships (goal 17). As far as that is concerned, the timing is perfect: it is one of the last high-level water events before COP24, the 24th edition of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. A Polish delegation that is involved with the COP24 will also be in Rotterdam on 15 November. They want to use the summit to gather input on the progress made in the international water sector, they are curious about how the international water community wants to contribute substantively to the first climate summit after the previous edition in Paris.

From vision to action
One of the strengths of the AIWW is that we continuously focus on concrete and practical solutions and the fact that the work has to commence. It is with good reason that the motto for the AIWW Summit is ‘from vision to action’. One splendid example from the recent past is the integrated approach to cities that we launched during the AIWW 2017. Inspired by this effort, more than 44 Polish cities are now collectively working on climate adaptation. The AIWW team is very pleased with such concrete results. It demonstrates not only that our unique approach is valued but also, more importantly, that it is followed by others. At the same time, let me be realistic; this is not just a good news show to make everyone feel good. We also encounter cases that can derail momentum. There are also setbacks, which we will discuss in Rotterdam.

Connecting with major water events
After all, we face enormous challenges that we, as public and private parties, knowledge institutes and the financial sector, can only deal with through unified international cooperation, with continuous attention. Among other things, this is achieved through our chosen design for the AIWW summit, with leader forums for industry, utilities and cities, with finance as a common thread through them all. We have developed a format that responds to the large and rapidly growing need for innovative leadership. And, we can note with due pride that this format has international appeal. The director of the recent Stockholm World Water Week is interested in how we set up the concept of the leaders forum and how we managed to secure those leaders. For example, during the last IWA conference in Tokyo and the most recent edition of the Singapore International Water Week, we organised a city leaders forum in partnership with the NWP and representatives of the Dutch government and the international water sector. We have also been approached for a dialogue with the World Economic Forum.

In doing so, we also succeed at actively forging international connections with other major water events, based on the awareness that we can only solve our challenges by working together. The fact that we stand out internationally is also apparent looking at our programme. We have managed to attract several highly compelling speakers. If you would like to actively engage in implementing pioneering solutions for concrete challenges, come to Rotterdam on 15 November. After all, this is the city for those who like to roll up their sleeves!’

Join us
Want to join the discussion at the AIWW Summit 2018 in Rotterdam? Please register for this landmark event.