Since its first global event, Amsterdam International Water Web (AIWW) as a facilitator and collaborative platform has continuously tried to push the boundaries of innovation, technology, youth and stakeholder engagement. AIWW has explored diverse areas and communities to network together and work towards achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Global Agenda 2030 central around water management and services goals.

Dr. Kala Vairavamoorthy, executive director of International Water Association has been associated with AIWW’s Programme Advisory Committee and participated in the kick-off meeting for AIWW in October 2020. Pioneered international water resources and sanitation systems management and focusing on low and middle income countries, he mentioned: “Many low and middle income countries recognise the need to further transition towards a ‘one water’ approach, doing more with less and ultimately decoupling economic growth from water consumption. This type of thinking will result in investment in efficiencies, diversification of water sources, and matching of the quality of water to need”.

Scalability and maximizing returns

Resource recovery solutions are anticipated to be financially viable and sustainable. However, the questions of scalability and maximizing returns on investment are the challenges that we need to consider.

With COVID-19 pandemic pushing the countries towards the transition to digitalisation of information and working towards SMART and data-driven innovations and integrated solutions, the future of water sector is increasingly becoming uncertain and risky with changes occurring at a rapid rate than anticipated by scientists. Thus, to make flexible solutions optimised and implemented over time is crucial. Vairavamoorthy added: “New approaches like real-options analysis should be at the forefront, acknowledging the value of being able to rapidly expand, down-size, or repurpose infrastructure investments. New process technologies are enabling more modular (decentralised) approaches to urban water management. These provide internal degrees of freedom, allowing many different combinations to be considered, so that flexibility can be optimised over time”.

Global push towards incorporating innovations

The water sector has been traditionally focusing on managerialism and competency. However, with AIWW’s focus and global push towards incorporating innovations in collaborative and integrated solutions-driven agenda; triggering, driving and facilitating change is what international platforms and organisations can achieve.

Vairavamoorthy emphasised the need for innovations: He concluded: “If our sector is to develop solutions to navigate the disorderly context of extreme complexity and uncertainty, we need to see a greater focus on creativity and ingenuity – so called right-brain characteristics that we all possess. This is no easy task; but if we start the discussion now, I am confident there is a bright future ahead”.