IWRA Newsletter Editorial – June 2021

Callum Clench,
IWRA Executive Director

It seems strange to already find ourselves halfway through 2021. In many ways it feels like things have been standing still over the past 18 months thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many other ways, especially at IWRA, things have been accelerating dramatically.

During the past three months we have said goodbye to our Deputy Executive Director, Alice Colson, who has been a valued member of the team for the past five and half years, and we said hello to three new members of the team: Rut Gomez Sobrino who is our new Communications Director, taking over from Ignacio Deregibus who is shifting to Alice’s position; Nevena Bakalar our new Events Officer; and Leonore Tjikune our new Digital Media Officer. These last two positions are new to the Executive Office team, reflecting both the importance of our expanding portfolio of online and face-to-face events, and our increasing interaction with members and partners not only through our website, but also across social media and through online activities.

Furthermore, we have launched a new and exciting series of Masterclasses on “Water Cooperation & Diplomacy” led by Aaron Wolf and Lena Salame, with skills workshops for IWRA Silver and Gold Members, and supported by ten other leading academics. Each master class consists of a public online lecture, followed by a smaller interactive workshop. If you haven’t registered to join these, please go to our website a do so now. Recordings of the sessions will also be made available for members on our membership space.

We also held our second annual IWRA Online Conference in June, co-hosted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO); sponsored by UNESCO IHP; and supported by Texas A&M University, the American University of Beirut, and our Chinese Chapter (the China Water Resources Association). The theme this year was “One Water, One Health: Water, Food & Public Health in a Changing World “. This free conference brought together close to 1,000 people from 115 countries. The Online Conference was developed since 2019 to facilitate knowledge sharing for people anywhere in the world who are not able to easily travel to face-to-face conferences. Little did we realise that this would apply to almost everyone in 2020 and 2021.

We have also received a huge amount of interest in the upcoming IWRA Board elections for the 2022-2024 Board, with the largest list of candidates for many years, which you can see in this newsletter. We take this as a sign of how successful we have been in pushing forward the water agenda on multiple fronts, and this is due to the incredible support and effort of our current President and Board, the Executive Office Team and all the members of our various Committees, Task Forces, Working Groups and Chapters. If you want to get more involved, contact our office and tell us what you are interested in, so we can connect you with the relevant group.

And of course, our preparations for the XVII World Water Congress are well underway, with Early-Bird Registration now open, and the programme being finalised by the International Scientific Committee, led by Gary Jones. Keep an eye on the website for more information on confirmed speakers and details on the extended range of planned activities. There will also be the latest updates on COVID-related consideration for people planning to attend. While we know that there is still uncertainty for many people concerning international travel right now, we are optimistic that by the end of November this year, travel to South Korea will be fairly easy for anyone who has been full vaccinated. We will be planning some extra events for IWRA Gold members at the Congress, so please make sure you have your membership up-to-date to benefit from discounts, as this membership level is aimed at people planning to come to the Congress.

Finally, we are also pleased to announce that the XVIII World Water Congress is going to take place in Beijing, China, in September 2023. So please make a note in your calendars and we will make further announcements later this year and at the XVII World Water Congress in Daegu, South Korea, where we hope to see as many of you as possible. If you have any questions, please contact us at congress@iwra.org.