World water congress


IWRA organises and supports international water congresses and events related to advancing water resources knowledge, policy and management around the world.


Since 1973, IWRA has held a World Water Congress every three years in various locations around the world.

The objective of the World Water Congress is to provide a meeting place to share experiences, promote discussion, and to present new knowledge, research results and new developments in the field of water sciences around the world.  For almost four decades the World Water Congresses have been excellent events for the identification of major global themes concerning the water agenda, and for the bringing together of a large cross-section of stakeholders for the development and implementation of decisions in the field of water.



Over the last thirty years, the debates and discussions about global water issues have become increasingly important in scientific, professional and inter-governmental forums. The United Nations has overseen several conventions regarding water problems such as biodiversity, desertification and the Kyoto protocols.  The 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been established as a plan of action for all countries and all stakeholders, acting in a collaborative approach to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. Water has been identified as a cross-cutting issue across the different 17 SGDs with its own Goal #6 aiming to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.  These conventions, meetings, engagements and debates arise from the shared knowledge and perspectives of the state, usage, key questions, future challenges and potential solutions in the field of fresh water resources.  These conventions, meetings, engagements and debates arise from the shared knowledge and perspectives of the state, usage, key questions, future challenges and potential solutions in the field of fresh water resources.  Despite the importance of this knowledge and a strong awareness of the issues, the world is still confronted with water resources issues that are characterised by:

• ever more significant water shortages
• an incapacity to offer universal access to safe drinking water
• a global deterioration in water quality
• diminishing financial means for water resources development
• a growing vulnerability to climate change and extreme natural events
• fragmented water management systems
• international legislation that is not well adapted to the resolution of transboundary conflicts.

It is established that action must be taken at the local level.

However, concerted efforts are also essential parallel to this at the regional and global level in order to achieve a significant and sustainable impact.


XVI World Water Congress in Cancun

The XVI World Water Congress was held in Cancun, Mexico from 29 May to 3 June 2017 and jointly organised by IWRA, the National Water Commission of Mexico (CONAGUA) and the National Association of Water and Sanitation Utilities (ANEAS).

Past Congresses

XV World Water Congress in Edinburgh

The XV IWRA World Water Congress was held in Edinburgh, Scotland, from 25 to 29 May 2015, hosted by the Scottish Government. The Congress brought together experts from all over the world to exhange and debate on “Global Water, A Resource For Development: Opportunities, Challenges and Constraints”.

Click here for more details.

XIV World Water Congress in Porto-De-Galinhas, Brazil

Dates: 25-29 September, 2011
Theme: “Adaptive Water Management: Looking to the Future”

XIV World Water Congress website

XIII World Water Congress in Montpellier, France

Dates: 1-4 September, 2008
Theme: “Global Changes and Water Resources”

Acceess both the XIII World Water Congress website and its report.

XII World Water Congress in New Delhi, India

Dates: 22-25 November, 2005
Theme: “Water for Sustainable Development, Towards Innovative Solutions“


XI World Water Congress in Madrid, Spain

Dates: 5-9 October, 2003
Theme: “Water Resources Management in the 21st Century”


X World Water Congress in Melbourne, Australia

Dates: 12-16 Mars, 2000
Theme: “Sharing and Caring for Water”


IX World Water Congress in Montreal, Canada

Dates: 1-6 September, 1997
Theme: “Water Resources Outlook for the 21 st Century: Conflicts and Opportunities”


VIII World Water Congress in El Cairo, Egypt

Dates: 13-18 May, 1994
Theme: “Satisfying Future National and Global Water Demands”


VII World Water Congress in Rabat, Morocco

Dates: 13-18 May, 1991
Theme: “Water for Sustainable Development in the 21st Century”

VI World Water Congress in Ottawa, Canada

Dates: 29 May-3 June, 1988
Theme: “Water for World Development”


V World Water Congress in Brussels, Belgium

Dates: 9-15 June, 1985
Theme: “Water Resources for Rural Areas and their Communities”


IV World Water Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Dates: 5-9 September, 1982
Theme: “Water for Human Consumption: Man and his Environment”


III World Water Congress in Mexico City, Mexico

Date: 23 April, 1979
Theme: “Water for Human Survival”


II World Water Congress in New Delhi, India

Dates: 12-16 December, 1975
Theme: “Water for Human Needs”


I World Water Congress in Chicago, U.S.A.

Dates: 24-28 September, 1973
Theme: “Importance and Problems of Water in the Human Environment in Modern Times”


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