World Water Week opens with call for urgent action

World Water Week opened on 23 Aug 2021 with calls for transformations of societies. Participants from all over the world will spend the week developing solutions to help the world address challenges such as water scarcity, the climate crisis, poverty, and biodiversity loss.

SIWI Executive Director, Torgny Holmgren (left), and Head of World Water Week, Henrika Thomasson, talking to Alok Jha, science correspondent from The Economist, and presenter of the Opening Plenary

Thirty years after it was initiated, the World Water Week 2021 has been redesigned for maximum impact. The conference is held from 23-27 Aug 2021 as an online event on the theme Building Resilience Faster. Participants from 170 countries are invited to co-create actionable solutions.

“We want World Water Week to be an action platform engaging all,” Henrika Thomasson, director, World Water Week at Stockholm International Water Institute, the World Water Week organiser, declared.

In a keynote, Professor Johan Rockström from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, described how humans are “dangerously altering” Earth’s life support systems. One example is how freshwater is impacted by the change humans are causing in climate and biodiversity. Rockström and his team have identified freshwater as one of the nine planetary boundaries that should not be crossed.

He said: “Freshwater must be integrated within the climate agenda. We must first meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, but then transform towards a safer future within planetary boundaries.”

The world, however, is not on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, warned Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations during an interview at the opening ceremony. She noted: “Before COVID-19, we were off track and after COVID-19, even more so. But the recovery could get us back on track. There is a silver lining there. There are things that we can scale up, there are things that we can put more at the centre of the investments that we are asking for now.”

Participants can enjoy more than 400 sessions at the World Water Week. Highlights of the week include the royal awards ceremonies for the Stockholm Water Prize, and Stockholm Junior Water Prize.