AIWW 2019 Interview Menno Holterman, Chair of the Managing Board of AIWW

When the thousands of participants in Amsterdam International Water Week 2019 arrive later this year, they will have the future in mind – future challenges, future opportunities. But in joining the fifth edition of AIWW, marking its ten-year anniversary, they will be invited to glance back too. “We are going to celebrate – we have achieved a lot,” says Menno Holterman, Chair of the Managing Board of AIWW and CEO of Nijhuis Industries.

“We have succeeded in making AIWW an integrated part of the global water calendar,” he says. “We are proud of the cooperation we have established with other leading events and partners, working collectively to enhance action and support for adaptation solutions, and promoting a multi-stakeholder approach to addressing water challenges around the world,” he says. In fact, it is a focus on integration that has given AIWW its distinctive place within the calendar. “Solving dynamic water challenges requires an integrated and inclusive approach,” says Menno. “We set out to create an event where Europe in particular, including of course the Netherlands, could present its integrated experience,” he adds. “We also wanted to create a water dialogue – a lot of utilities and industries were starting to learn from each other, but not working collectively, and cities were only beginning to see that they needed climate change adaptation as well as mitigation. Dialogue is needed because water connects and contributes to a water and climate resilient future and circular economy,” says Menno.

With the week expanded beyond its foundations of a successful conference and the long-running, leading Aquatech Amsterdam trade show, this dialogue is set up by bringing together audiences from across all of water’s connections. “The previous AIWW drew more than 20% of its attendees from beyond the water sector core, from where it connects with city planners, corporations, energy, food security, and with peace and security,” he says.

The week is recognised as a showcase for research, development and innovation. The crucial role of financing, valuing water, and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and climate objectives of the Paris Agreement are put centre stage. And the format facilitates interaction between leaders through its dedicated leadership programme. “Our goal this year is to bring together at least 500 of the most influential water leaders in the world,” adds Menno. Their task will be to build on previous meetings, not go over the same ground, and to inspire action beyond those who are already leading the way, he explains. This will be seen, for example, in the Industry Leaders Forum part of the programme, which Menno is also heading. “We offer a platform to show how there can be a return on investment if done properly, creating value by reducing the water, energy and climate footprint of the entire supply chain and securing their license to operate,” he says. Commitment to practical progress set down in Amsterdam Agreements is another distinctive contribution of AIWW, with a further five agreements expected to be added to the current ten at this year’s event. “These are all examples of multi-stakeholder cooperation between different partners who have agreed to cooperate and to share, not just the positives, but also their difficulties and challenges,” says Menno.

Together these features create the impact that has allowed AIWW to justifiably claim its place in the global calendar. “If you want to know about the circular economy, or if you want to know about resilient cities, resilient industry, resilient utilities and turn your case into a bankable solution, AIWW is certainly one of the most profound platforms,” concludes Menno.

Over 180 speakers and moderators have already confirmed their active involvement, and opening of online registration last week has been met with a great response from participants signing up to attend. On behalf of the management board, the organizing committee, our loyal sponsors, host city and partners, we are looking forward to making this 5th edition a huge and joint success, and are pleased to invite you to register now for the upcoming edition of AIWW and benefit from the early bird registration, which closes September 15!