Blog by Nupur Jain

Amsterdam International Water Web (AIWW) has recently launched its theme ‘Blue-Green deals with integrated solutions’. The subthemes were decided after profound discussions with the Program Advisory Committee and the feedback received from participants after the focus event in October 2020. AIWW also aligns and supports Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda 2030, with AIWW 2021-22 focussing on SDG 2-Zero Hunger, SDG 6-Clean Water and sanitation, SDG 9-Industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG 11-Sustainable cities and communities and SDG 13-Climate action. The chosen SDGs also align with AIWW’s target groups Industries, Cities and Utilities.

The four subthemes and two cross-cutting topics are interconnected yet have specific focus. The approach to find the focus and need for the below mentioned subthemes is derived from AIWW Horizon 2030 agenda.

Subtheme 1: Clean Water and Ecosystem restoration
Addressing challenges of water quality and quantity whilst being mindful of its impacts on ecosystem’s health is the main focus of the subtheme. Green-blue integrated infrastructural solutions and nature-based solutions are focus points to drive the transformation. The theme focuses on the challenges also described in SDG 2 target 2.4, SDG 11 target 11A, SDG 6 targets 6.2., 6.3, 6.4 and 6.6. and the solutions mentioned in target 6A.

Subtheme 2: Reuse, recycle and recover
Addressing challenges of reclaiming and reusing wastewater (municipal, industrial as well as agricultural), ‘safe’ water recovery and pollution minimization including pharmaceutical waste pollution. The part of solutions that the subtheme focuses on is in decentralised water production and treatment solutions and efficient use and reuse of water in farming systems. Subscribing to SDG 2 target 2.4, SDG 9 target 9.4, SDG 6 targets 6.3. , 6.4 and solutions mentioned in target 6A.

Subtheme 3: Risks and Resilience
In order to build resilient and adaptive systems, early warning systems and data-based monitoring is already recognised by scientists and policy makers. The subtheme pushes these goals further by focussing on integrated solutions in disaster risks reduction through resilient water infrastructure solutions, strengthening early warning systems with data-centric technologies and innovations in community reach, access and inclusion and financial systems strengthening to address risk preparedness. Addressing SDG 13 target 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, SDG 11 target 11B and solutions mentioned in SDG 6 targets 6A and 6B.

Subtheme 4: Community engagement and inter-sectoral collaboration
From government as well as water service providers/water utilities perspective, finding a common ground for water distribution, access and allocation is one of the major challenges. Inclusion of all communities in decision-making processes on ecosystem and climate risks is another global challenge several countries and projects face. The part of solution addressed in the subtheme is innovating and focussing on smart data based tools and instruments that can be accessible, usable, adaptable, flexible global and scalable for implementation. Attending to SDG 6 targets 6.4., 6A and 6B, SDG 13 target 13.2 and 13.3, SDG 11 targets 11.3, 11A and 11 B, SDG 9 targets 9A, 9B, 9C and SDG 2 target 2A

Cross-cutting topics
Cross-cutting topics include Finance and Smart data tools to support understanding of inter-dependent water related challenges and advancing towards solutions. Innovations and financing water solutions is another major challenge that enterprises and innovators face. AIWW is focussing on connecting energy, water, food, environment sector to mobilize investment for innovators.

How does AIWW contribute in catalysing transformation?
AIWW has been focussing on integrated water solutions and catalysing transformative change. SDGs have taken over Millenium Development Goals in 2015 which had rather unrealistic, aspirational targets. Although SDG targets and goals have more global and inclusive approach with national governments as major stakeholders; the pathways and approach in achieving them is yet to be understood and defined by several countries.

AIWW 2019 outcomes have outlined the lack of practices and solutions that innovators and implementers can learn from and further push the envelope of advancements. Bi-lateral Amsterdam utility agreements that institutionalise the collaborative partnerships between Singapore, Paris, Copenhagen, Berlin, New York City and Amsterdam have led to the exchange of knowledge and understanding challenges in implementation. Larger cities with different urban pressures and stresses face issues in governance, water allocation, quality and quantity, population influx and geographical limitations. This is evident from examples of Mumbai (India), Mexico City (Mexico), Jakarta (Indonesia), Cape Town (South Africa), Cairo (Egypt) and many more. However, peri-urban and rural regions, mostly in developing countries of South Asia, other challenges of lack of capacity and technology, financial and resource limitations, infrastructure and accessibility are also reported by several global assessments.

Thus, AIWW’s subthemes focus not only on challenges in urban, rural and peri-urban regions but also recognises existing areas with potential solutions within the water sector. Strengthening local governments is our starting point. Amsterdam agreements recognise the cooperation between two essential implementing organisations in water service provisions- Local governments and water service providers. AIWW has been collaborating with local city governments initiating with Rotterdam and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. More activities in this regard will follow.

How can you contribute?
Current AIWW Community includes scientists, policy makers, governments, water utilities, industrial experts, innovators, local implementers, global leaders, technology providers and youth. This community network is continuously engaged and involved in different activities. We will kick-off this year through an online webinar series focussing on each subtheme. The webinar will have speakers from different target sectors and will inform on recent challenges and transformation stories. In March 2021, we will begin with our first collaborative webinar on subtheme 1: Clean Water and ecosystem restoration.

More information on this subtheme will follow soon. If you want to participate or contribute as a speaker or through ideas, please reach out at nupur.jain@amsterdamiww.com.

The deadline to send in your feedback and ideas is February 10th 2021.