Wednesday, August 16, 2017

17/08/2017: XVI World Water Congress

by Alex Whitebrook, International Aquafeed

The XVI World Water Congress, May 29- June 3, 2017, is organised by the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) and hosted in Cancun, Mexico by CONAGUA – Mexico’s water authority

This conference is a primary marker on the road to next years World Water Forum held in Brazil and I am extremely excited to be involved. Though the focus of the event is purely on water security, quality and management, the implications for the aquaculture industry are monumental.

I spent the week attending a multitude of fascinating and informative sessions on anything and everything water related.

Opening Session
The World Water Congress opened with members from a high level panel of officials across the world and across the water sector. Patrick Levard, President of the IWRA, opened the event with a reminder of the critical role water holds in sustainable development, as enshrined in the 2015 adoption of the 6th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

Water has vast implications on other sectors including health, education, climate change, food and energy, and these areas of focus would emerge again and again as the week progressed. Patrick went on to introduce the remaining members of the opening panel, whom included some of the most important water professionals in the region and across the world.

They included: Peña Nieto, President of CONAGUA; Rafael Alaman, Mexico’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources; Benedito Braga, World water council President; Mr Guihua Lu, Vice-Minister for Water Resources for the People’s Republic of China; H.E. Mr Diene Faye, State Secretary for Hydraulics, Senegal; Mr Haksoo Lee, President of the Asia Water Council; Mr Tony Slayter, Special Adviser on Water to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and, Mr Paulo Salles, Co-Chair of the eighth World Water Forum. Representatives of major International Non-government Organisations (NGOs), such as Karin Krchnak, Director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Freshwater Program, were also in attendance.

Day one
Hitting the ground running on my first day at the conference, I met and learnt from so many water professionals. It was a difficult choice on which sessions to attend, with the Congress having the broad theme of ‘aligning science and policy’, and covering every niche of the water industry.

‘Water Security in a Changing World: Alternative Sources of Water’ marked the first of the regular sessions I attended, in which representatives from different institutions around the world presented the findings of their research in water.

Dr Yoram Eckstein provided the most interesting point of discussion in his presentation entitled “The future of Water”. Advocating for the use of wastewater treatment and desalination to tackle water shortages, he used Israel as the archetypal example of water-smart country enacting such policy – where 75 percent of all wastewater is recycled, drip irrigation in used on 60 percent of all agricultural activities, and desalination is used to supplement the rest of the country’s water demand.

Going beyond this efficient use of water, the remaining brine from the desalination process is evaporated so that the salt may be mined for other uses, and significantly reducing the waste product of the desalination process.

In recognising that the case of each country is different, Dr Eckstein noted that cost barriers effect the use of these methods in many countries, but that a similar kind of innovative spirit must be pursued, and bureaucratic limits to progress, such as costly licensing, must be withdrawn.

All-in-all the first day of the World Water Congress left me thirsty for more. Presentations such as Dr Eckstein’s prove that better water management will also be crucial for the future of aquaculture, as water becomes scarcer, and wastewater treatment will become exceedingly important.

Read the full show report, HERE

About the Author
Originally from Australia, Alex studied his Bachelor Degree in International Relations and Asian Studies at the University of Western Australia alongside a Diploma in Mandarin (Chinese). His professional experience lies primarily in international non-government organisations, think tanks, and publishing firms, where he has contributed his political expertise, language skills, and research and editing abilities to benefit the study of international food and water security. 
Alex has recently been writing for International Aquafeed magazine as well as curating two blog sites focused on Aquaculture and Agritech, on behalf of VNU.

Read more from Alex Whitebrook - HERE 

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