Re-imagining sanitation and safe drinking water for all

Millions of lives, the environment and economies need sustainable solutions for the pressing water problems. Emerging economies have a unique but fleeting opportunity to change the way they think about water and sanitation.

The IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition is the largest global water event to be held in Southern Asia in 2019. From 1-5 December, international water experts from the full width and reach of the water sector will meet in Colombo, Sri Lanka. At the world’s leading water development event, over 3000 participants from 100 countries will discuss and develop sustainable solutions for emerging economies.

“The SDG’s are inspiring water professionals to re-imagine how they do water and sanitation. IWA believes that it has a pivotal role in supporting the SDGs by sharing knowledge – the innovations in science and practice – that underpins a ‘new-normal. Emerging economies have a unique but fleeting opportunity to change the way they think about water and sanitation,” says IWA Chief Executive Officer, Kala Vairavamoorthy.

He continued, “how is water used – and reused? Should water systems and their accompanying infrastructure and services be centralised or decentralised, linear or circular? Although the potential to do things differently in these emerging areas exist, the window of opportunity to create a more sustainable pathway is relatively small (5-15 years) and hence quick action is needed if one is going to create a paradigm shift.”

Over 4 days, the Congress will be the meeting space that inspires participants to transform water management and to bridge the gap between disciplines, between theory and practice, and to present latest research and best cases in discussions on stage or in the exhibition. The Exhibition is an intrinsic part of the Congress. Here, companies exhibit the latest technology, countries and organisations present their work and approaches in the framework of the Congress theme.

Congress Themes

The IWA Congress brings together practitioners and researchers to discuss and develop solutions for the most pressing water problems. The Congress covers six themes: drinking water treatment and supply; faecal sludge and wastewater treatment for resource recovery; city water and faecal sludge utility management and services; integrated water resources management; and efforts toward SDG6.

“IWA believes that innovators and institutions can, through a pragmatic alliance with IWA, develop nimble and affordable ways to ‘leapfrog’ the legacy of clunky, costly, centralised, top-down policies and infrastructure towards a more circular and distributed approach to water and sanitation” adds Kala Vairavamoorthy.

The IWA #DevelopmentCongress has a total of 59 sessions, with a focus on finding solutions for challenges such as sanitation and sludge management or new technology in the area of digitalisation. Among the sessions are:

  • Off-grid toilets and decentralised sanitation technologies
  • Creating a new non-sewered sanitation industry
  • Groundwater management and governance
  • Antibiotic resistance in faecal sludge management
  • Increasing sustainability and resilience through digitalisation of water and wastewater services
  • Rainwater harvest management and treatment
  • Capacity building and training approaches for water safety plans
  • China-Sri Lanka collaboration on water and health
  • Major challenges achieving SGD6