Jan 18, 2021

5 things you should know about World Water Week 2021

On 25 January, the Call for proposals will open for World Water Week 2021. Expect your favourite water event to look a bit different this year compared to previous versions. Here are four exciting changes – plus one characteristic that will always stay the same.

It is with great pride that SIWI can look back at 30 years of organizing World Water Week. What started out as a small-scale academic conference during Stockholm Water Festival has grown into the leading annual event on global water issues. This year we continue the evolution. We will lean into uncertainty, leverage the opportunities presented by the pandemic, and help accelerate action in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. Here are a few changes to look out for:

  • World Water Week goes digital

The decision to move World Water Week entirely online was necessary to ensure that the event takes place, despite the global pandemic. During these enormously challenging times, it is more important than ever to come together to work on concrete solutions to major problems. A digital event also opens new possibilities since more people can be involved and ideas can travel faster across the world.

  • More focus on solutions and action

The pandemic has exposed deep inequalities and shown how vulnerable our societies are. We need fast problem solving and collective action on an epic scale to tackle not just the havoc wrought by Covid-19 but also the climate crisis and the threats to the natural world. New session formats will help convenors put the emphasis on providing information, tools, case studies, and networks to achieve this. A solutions-oriented and informal event, the Week can both help participants solve local problems they face – and influence international processes such as the global climate talks.

  • Not the usual suspects

Building Resilience Faster, the theme of World Water Week 2021, is however about more than just fixing immediate problems. To be resilient in the long term, we must understand how humans depend on, and are part of, the natural world. This changes how we view water – it is not a niche topic but a fundamental aspect of agriculture, energy production, industry, city planning and almost anything else. We are happy to see World Water Week attracting an increasingly diverse group of participants and believe that the digital format will make this trend even more pronounced.

  • Stronger focus on accelerating impact

The pandemic is not the only force transforming the world before our eyes, we also live in an era of unprecedented technological and behavioural change. We must seize this opportunity to set the world on a more resilient path. World Water Week 2021 will also focus on building the community’s capacity in, and common approaches to, dimensions such as leadership, communications and behavioural change. This will help us solve the challenges we face – better, faster, and together.

  • Some things should never change

We co-create the Week together with convenors, participants, partners, and others who see the potential in using water to change the world. What makes this possible is that one aspect of World Water Week that must never be allowed to change. Over the years, World Water Week has gained a reputation as an unusually friendly and informal conference, where it is easy to connect with people who you may otherwise never meet. Many projects, networks and friendships have started out as casual conversations among participants. That special collaborative spirit will always be at the heart of World Water Week.