Back to the Future: World Waternet Festival @RIC12 September 2023
Reaching the final stage of our Business Plan, the time has come to ask ourselves: “What’s Next?”. The circumstances of two years ago have already changed. New opportunities have arisen, new threads have appeared. So it is time to look at the possible future for World Waternet. Only this time, we will not do this alone. On 7 September, we organised ‘Back to the Future’, a World Water Festival @ RIC. In interactive dialogue with our World Waternet Community, guided by the Embassy of the Earth, we jointly shaped the contours of our Future and the Business Plan 2025 - 2030.
Two years ago, we shared our Business Plan 2021-2024 that defines how we look to increase the impact of our actions by enabling our partners to realise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The objective for 2024 described in that plan is that “World Waternet partners with public water organisations to improve their performance and resilience through an innovative peer-to-peer knowledge exchange platform driven by our community of water cycle experts”. To further concretise this, we embarked on five journeys: (1) More impact: spin-offs and measured impact on SDGs, (2) WOP partners: intensified long-term partnerships, (3) Alliance partners: effective collaboration with alliance partners, (4) Knowledge & innovation: a knowledge platform, including an e-Cademy of Excellence and (5) Human resources: a strong community of water cycle experts.
The Future of World Waternet
The implementation of the Business Plan is proceeding well, we have been able to mobilise more long-term investments, bring about numerous impactful spin-offs, deploy more water experts and contribute to the research and innovation program of Waternet. Reaching the final stage of our Business Plan, the time has come to ask ourselves: “What’s Next?”. In a world that's constantly changing, the only constant is change. The circumstances of two years ago have already altered. New opportunities have arisen, new threads have appeared. So it is time to look at the possible future for World Waternet. Only this time, we did not do this alone. In interactive dialogue with our World Waternet Community, guided by the Embassy of the Earth, we jointly shaped the contours of our Future and the Business Plan 2025 - 2030.
Great teamwork is top sport
Earlier this year, the Embassy of the Earth facilitated the Future Design Basecamp to bring Njururi (a local water beetle) back to the Thika river in Kenya. Stakeholders and problem holders within the Thika River basin worked together to create a vision for 2033 to improve the living conditions of the river and actions plans to put the vision into action.
The Future vision for World Waternet used a similar approach during the World Waternet Festival @ RIC, that took place on 7 September 2023. Frodo van Oostveen (CEO of World Waternet) kicked off the session and was able to make a direct link to the location that hosted the festival: rowing club RIC, right in front of the head office of Waternet: “Great teamwork is also top sport! Falling down and getting back up, it is all part of life. But let's help each other to get back up. Climate change is demanding us to speed up our activities. But we cannot do it alone as a team, we need our community. Everything we devise today, we will use for our Business Plan towards 2030”.
Our own social ecosystem
Guided by Leo van der Vlist and Frank Heckman, the method based on ‘Social Ecological Dynamics’ were clarified. “Because you work with water, you are per definition an open organisation. You constantly learn and adopt; you have your own social ecosystem. If the energy you exchange with your environment is balanced, then you are resilient" Frank explained.
The group was divided in four smaller groups. The first assignment was to think about what will World Waternet have to face in the (near) future? Which threads as well as opportunities from our environment will come our way? The groups looked at it from many different angles, producing a variety of possible affairs we will need to deal with, such as geopolitics, polarisation, new technologies (AI) and insecure funding.
After each group presented their top 5, we looked inward and went on the next questions: What do we have to offer? What defines us? How is our culture? What are our strengths? But also, uneasy questions, such us, what is our ‘shadow side’? The groups came up with various expected answers, such as our integrated water cycle approach and practical water expertise, but also things like humour and honesty. There was also enough room for criticism, for example that we must bear in mind that we can learn ourselves from others just as much as we can teach others.
The final and challenging assignment was to define where we want to be in 2030. The groups were asked to think of five newspaper headlines in 2030 that say something about World Waternet. The results ranged from playful to very ambitious. It was a good exercise to thing big, without 'ifs' or 'buts', what we so often inclined to do.
Despite the extreme heat that day, which at some point became close to a steam bath, our community stuck around, which we highly respect and appreciate! We thank everyone who joined for their indispensable input, ideas and critical views. On 12 October, World Waternet organises another Meet-Up for the WWn Community at our head office and will we continue working on our resilience for the future.