Jun 22, 2021

Gold Standard: More than a standard

The Gold Standard is criteria for sessions which show who we, at World Water Week, are and what we stand for. That is, equal, just and inclusive processes to ensure a water wise world for all. For convenors, it is a guide to creating a successful session as we work together to find solutions.

World Water Week introduced the Gold Standard to ensure gender equality and youth empowerment at World Water Week session. When introduced only 10 percent of World Water Week sessions met the criteria, within a year 80 percent of sessions of sessions complied with the Gold Standard.

We need the Gold Standard for two reasons: representation and results. Almost half of World Water Week participants are women and one-third are under 35. The speaker line-up should reflect this demography. Furthermore, it is in a session’s best interests that it meets the criteria of the Gold Standard: in fact the Standard should rather be seen as a bare minimum for those who wish to hold a successful session.

With participants from more than 130 countries, expectations are high that sessions should feature panelists and speakers from different regions, of all ages and with a good gender balance. People of all ages and genders are directly affected by water policy and infrastructure – to ensure their active participation in sessions at World Water Week they are able to inform and influence potentially life-altering decisions.

World Water Week prides itself on being a meeting place across sectors and continents, and a breeding ground for collaboration. For sessions to ensure they are facilitating collaboration, bringing in a broad range of perspectives and ensuring no one is left behind – they must ensure diversity in active participation. Meaning, not just a wide range of people in their audience but also sitting in the panel, leading the conversation or moderating discussions while encouraging participation from the audience.

As we continue to work to improve the quality of our sessions both in terms of content and inclusivity the Gold Standard will develop to ensure we continue to strive to be the best we can be and not settle for the bare minimum.

For a session to meet the Gold Standard:

  • At least 40 percent of presenters must be women
  • At least one presenter must be under the age of 35
  • The format and design should actively encourage audience participation