The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition is a big and complex event that involves dozens of partners and two years of preparation. Every two years a new city plays host to an event that brings together local and global water management expertise to find solutions to our most pressing water challenges. Over the last decade it has become one of the premier global water events, and the only one to successfully combine the science, practice, policy and business of the water sector.
The 2016 event, held in Brisbane, was no exception. More than 4700 water leaders from 108 countries joined together to debate the challenges, opportunities and solutions for achieving a water-wise world. A unique component that adds value to the event is the seamless integration of the conference’s leading-edge research and science focus, with world-renowned water companies in the exhibition. In Brisbane, the Exhibition brought together a record 255 companies, universities and institutes, seeking to connect with their peers, showcase their innovative technologies, and do business.
To assess how participants view the success of the exhibition, we canvass opinions during the event itself, but also use the results of a detailed participant survey after the event. Even in comparison with past events, the 2016 survey results are exceptional. Some 93 percent of participating companies see the Exhibition as one of the few truly global events, with 90 percent of exhibitors considering their experience to be at or beyond their pre-event expectations.
Thomas Poschmann, CEO Scinor Water America, highlight this, saying “at the World Water Congress & Exhibition we build contacts with the market leaders. The combination of the Congress and the Exhibition is very good for marketing projects, networking, to exchange market information, and to get the word out from Scinor to the global water sector.”
The balance between the conference and the exhibition, and excellent networking opportunities, were highlights for many. As was the Business Forum programme. With almost 50 sessions organized during the week, exhibitors used the Business Forums to showcase their thought leadership and technological innovations to a broad spectrum of attendees.
Individual exhibitors underlined the business power of their presence in the exhibition. Morten Schoor, from Pall Corporation said “We are here to help to bring clean water to the world. Pall is involved in quite a few shows yearly, but this one is by far the best we attended. Participants at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition are here with a reason, they have a clear need. And Pall has the solutions.”
Several country and regional pavilions offered a different dynamic in the exhibition. The Africa Pavilion, organised by the African Water Association (AfWA), brought leading water providers into the exhibition to showcase their innovation and regional leadership. Sylvain Usher, AfWA Executive Director, said that “the African water sector aims to speak with one voice in the global arena, and the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition is the place for us to look for solutions.”
This year, the exhibition had a focus on parts of the global water sector that respond to the growing demands placed on water management. One example was the Emerging Technologies Pavilion, organized in partnership with Isle Utilities. Mal Shepherd, from John Holland Water, highlighted the critical need for water innovation, saying “research shows that the world will face a net 40% deficit in the water balance by 2030. Innovative solutions provide a pathway to restore the global water imbalance via more efficient use of our water resources. Globally we have seen an underinvestment in innovation and technology, and the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Pavilion is a platform for emerging technology developers to pitch their solutions. We have seen a broad spectrum of innovative solutions that are approaching or have been commercialized. Some of these are already changing the way in which we will think about addressing water challenges in the future.”
Another highlight was the Cities Pavilion, organized by the IWA with support from ARUP and Veolia. Cities are the future of humanity and making cities liveable, resilient and sustainable requires them to place water management at the heart of urban development. The Cities Pavilion showcased the best of urban water management and launched the IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities. Cities, organisations and individuals worldwide endorsed the principles and committed to making water-wise cities a reality. Mark Fletcher from Arup said ‘The Cities Pavilion provided the perfect platform to launch the IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities and share the Arup Future of Urban Water initiative!”
The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition requires like-minded sponsors and partners to make it a success. Sponsors not only ensure the financial sustainability of the event, they bring a wide range of expertise from which the event benefits more widely. Our key sponsors – the Australian Government, Xylem, Scinor, Poten, Suez, Pure Technologies, the Queensland Government, Brisbane City, Queensland University and Griffith University – are centres of global innovation driving progress towards a world where water meets the needs of humans and ecosystems in a sustainable way.
Solving global water challenges is at the heart of the Congress and Exhibition, the unique ability to bring all elements of the water sector together to debate and find solutions to these challenges is both its strength and attraction. Join us on this journey to a sustainable water future at the next IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan, in 2018.