Young water leaders converged in South Africa to find solutions to address a water scarce future

More than 500 young water sector leaders from around the world met in Cape Town, South Africa, to find solutions to the world’s growing water challenges, some of the most critical issues confronting the planet today. The 8th International Water Association (IWA) International Young Water Professionals Conference that took place between the 11th and 13th of December brought water science and research together with policymakers as well as the public and private sectors in order to drive water cooperation and water solutions that can be applied globally.

With the sector requiring new innovative, multidisciplinary thinking, young professionals and emerging water leaders need to be at the forefront of delivering water solutions. Hosted in Cape Town, the conference provides international attendees with a unique opportunity to learn from South Africa, as well as bring their knowledge and experiences.

“The water sector is critical to ensuring a sustainable water future for all, but the sector faces a human resources crisis, particularly in low- and middle-income countries,” Kirsten de Vette of the IWA said. “The water sector needs to attract, engage, and retain Young Water Professionals as one of the key contributions to solving the growing water crisis. They are current and future leaders who are critical to delivering the solutions for a sustainable water future.”

The International Young Water Professionals Conference is the leading global event that brings young water leaders from around the world together and providing them with a platform to debate the challenges and solutions facing the sector, as well as the role of young professionals within it. It offers learning and professional development opportunities, and enables networking amongst young professionals. In addition, the event also bridges the gap between the science, practice, and policy of water management, and delivers practical solutions that help achieve the globally agreed 2030 Sustainable Development Goal vision for water.

“We have a significant opportunity to ensure a sustainable water future. Fresh water is critical for human wellbeing, as well as for healthy ecosystems and economic growth. Yet water scarcity, as Cape Town knows from its current prolonged drought, is increasingly the reality. Globally, water resources are facing unprecedented pressures,” Lloyd Fisher-Jeffes, Conference Chair, added. “This meeting is an opportunity for young professionals from around the world to debate the solutions to the emerging water crisis.”

The International Young Water Professionals Conference features a wide range of experts from all areas of the water and development sectors. Thought leaders speaking at the Congress include:

  • Leading expert on Smart Water Systems, Gustaf Olsson of Lund University, Sweden
  • International water expert, Diane d’Arras, President of the IWA
  • Chair of the Board of Rand Water, Faith Matshidiso Hashatse, who heads one of South Africa’s leading water utilities
  • Richard Ashley, Director of EcoFutures, who discussed “Economics, so called nature based solutions and uncertainty”
  • Theoretical physicist and Head of Innovation at SAP Africa, Adriana Marais, and one of the 100 Mars One Project astronaut candidates.