After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, for most of us 2022 has been an incredible year of reunions, collaboration and catching up. It ended up being an amazingly busy year as our water community gathered in many places, including Dakar, Senegal, for the 9th World Water Forum; Stockholm, Sweden, for World Water Week; Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, for Climate COP 27; New York, U.S.A., for the Preparatory Meeting for the 2023 UN Water Conference; Paris, France, for the UNESCO Groundwater Summit; and Daegu, Republic of Korea, for the Korea International Water Week…just to name but a few highlights.
For our new Executive Board and President, not to mention the Executive Office Team, we have been keeping actively engaging on numerous fronts, including project and task force activities; various committees; and collaborative projects with UNESCO, OECD, UN-Water, UNDESDA, HumanRight2Water, International Network of Basin Organisations (INBO), World Water Council, Asia Water Council, etc. We were pleased to be re-elected for a second term to the World Water Council at the General Assembly held in November in Paris, where our Secretary General, Eric Tardieu, was also appointed as Vice President of the World Water Council, under his position as within INBO.
That same week all the Board members present in Paris for the various meetings of UN-Water, UNESCO, and the World Water Council also came together to hold a full day of workshop meetings at our new office at 21 Rue de Madrid. It was a very productive day, offering a rare opportunity for Board members and the executive office to delve into much more detailed discussions on all our activities, and to start to set strategy for the future development/activities of the Association. These things are much harder to do during on-line meetings that cut across so many time zones. It also gave us the opportunity to socialise, including having dinner at the incredibly beautiful Palais du Luxembourg which is the seat of the French Senate, thanks to the kind invitation of our previous president Patrick Lavarde and his daughter Christine Lavarde (Sénateur des Hauts-de-Seine, Ile-de-France). It was a wonderful way to end the year and to thank everyone for all their hard work for the IWRA.
As we look forward to 2023, there is little time to rest, as we make final preparations for the IWRA-UNESCO Online Conference on “Emerging Pollutants: Protecting Water Quality for the Health of People and the Environment”, taking place from January 17-19, and of course the on-going preparations for our XVIII World Water Congress taking place in Beijing from September 11-15, 2023, under the theme of “Water for All: Harmony between Humans and Nature”. And we are also initiating the preparations for IWRA’s first Island Water Congress to take place in the Faroe Islands in September 2024 hosted by Jarðfeingi – the Faroese Geological Survey. We are also planning a new series of masterclass on the human right to water in collaboration with HumanRight2Water and South Africa’s Water Research Commission.
In the meantime, we will continue with our proactive collaboration with external partners as we fast approach the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York, from March 22-24. This will be the first such UN conference dedicated to water in almost 50 years. It will be a “Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Sustainable Development’, 2018-2028”. IWRA has already participated in the preparatory meetings held in New York and Paris in the past few months. And of course other partner activities will also offer opportunities for IWRA members to engage with us on activities such as the OECD Water Governances Initiative, and preparations for the 10th World Water Forum, planned to take place in Bali, Indonesia in May 2024.
On behalf of everyone on the IWRA Executive Board and Office, I would like to take this time to wish everyone Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. We look forward to seeing many of you in 2023 and to continuing our collective action to share knowledge and expertise to improve the management of the world’s water resources.