IWRA Newsletter Editorial – March 2021

Gabriel Eckstein, IWRA President

2021 is a very special year for our Association. IWRA will turn 50 at the end of this year, and many activities are planned to mark this great milestone. We have already transitioned to a new membership structure, which is linked more closely to membership benefits and opportunities. We are planning to hold more events this year than ever before. The XVII World Water Congress will now be held on from November 29th to December 3rd (coincidentally November 29th is the same date that our first articles of incorporation were signed back in 1971). In addition, our 2nd IWRA Online Conference is scheduled for this year, supported graciously by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. We are also beginning a new series of Master Classes and an ever increasing programme of Webinars and High Level Panels.

As vaccination programmes continue to roll out around the world, the end of the COVID-19 pandemic now feels within reach, and plans for many of the activities we have had to put on hold are gaining energy. This is also true for IWRA, especially in relation to the XVII World Water Congress in Daegu, South Korea. Following involved discussions with our co-hosts in Korea, it was decided this year to implement one final, short postponement of the congress from September to the last week of November. We are confident that this will maximise the opportunities for members and partners to participate and finally be able to see each other face-to-face.

The theme of the UN World Water Day 2021 and its related activities is “Valuing Water”. We know that water means different things to different people, and balancing the competing and growing demands for this resource requires a multi-stakeholder approach to its management. This includes not only surface water, but also groundwater and wastewater. We agree that achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) is critical to the success of almost all other SDGs. Unfortunately, according to the UN Secretary-General’s message on World Water Day, we are still not on track to ensure that everyone has access to water and sanitation by 2030, as set out in SDG 6.

While advances have been made, current progress needs to quadruple in order to achieve universal access. Chronic under-investment in water and sanitation both disadvantages and harms a significant number of people. So while we are proud of all we have achieved so far, now is not the time to relax. We need to continue to engage with one another, share our knowledge and expertise, and find solutions for increase water security for everyone.

With this in mind, I encourage you to join one of our Task Forces, participate in our events, and publish in our journal, Water International. IWRA represents a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and we want you all to benefit from this.