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Next stop: CI at the UN2023WaterConference - NYC

16 March 2023

Over the last months, Frodo van Oostveen (CEO World Waternet) has been challenging himself and others regarding the impact of the upcoming UN Water Conference in New York: "So far I am proud of how World Waternet (WWn) and its partners have focused less on ‘me’ and more on WE. This means putting the spotlight on our international Water Operators Partnerships (WOPs) through our Collective Impact (CI#4) with WaterWorX (collaboration of Dutch Water Utilities) and Blue Deal (collaboration of Dutch Water Authorities)".

Before you (virtually) check-in to New York I would recommend you to read the challenging views () of Prof Asit K Biswas on the impacts of the 1977 UN Water Conference event & the likely impacts from the 2023 edition.

“The first #UNWaterConference in 1977 had remarkable impacts since it looked at #water problems in their totality systematically & comprehensively”.

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Please find my personal CI guidebook (4) for how to approach the upcoming UN Water Conference:

Collective Intelligence (CI#1)

Focus on the ability to pool our insights and knowledge, and build on each other’s solutions (for inspiration listen to the podcast () of Matthew Syed on Rebel Ideas and Diversity)

Many many many people are looking forward to the upcoming UN Water Conference in New York. And of course it’s exciting to finally go to New York, and meet so many water influencers. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, as long as we are able to connect and listen to each other and have the empathy to think bigger than ourselves. Yet, there are also serious concerns about the outcomes as everybody is struggling to get to grips with the scale of the event. Another concern is who will eventually make it to get to New York (budget, visa, accreditation, etc.).

So let’s keep in mind, and visualize, why we are heading there, what the conference and its 5 themes () looks like.

ACTION POINT #1: Visualize the Conference themes along the subway lines of New York. And we are all moving knowledge nodes…. Enjoy the ride, stay curious, embrace the complexity of the system as that’s also the beauty of work around the water cycle.

Community Inspiration (CI#2)

Find the bliss to empower and excite each other, to be able to change the game ().

To change the water game we need more ‘cognitive diversity’, and authentic and servant leadership. The conference is the start and not the finish, and we are all responsible (personal leadership) for changing the course of our shared #water story. I encourage you to connect with new people (e.g. youth, basin authorities), new areas of expertise (e.g. health, policy) and new sectors (e.g. finance, ICT). To follow the ‘ubuntu’ spirit (we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am), the impact (of the conference) will only last as we keep on investing in deepening (new) relationships.;    

ACTION POINT:  Be curious, and let’s truly engage and LISTEN to each other.

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Curriculum Illussione (CI#3)

Craft a bold purpose oriented movement, in a radically new way. 

Let’s definitely learn from our lessons learned, but let’s be excited of the stories of our community moving forward. So not so much focus on your Curriculum Vitae but on your future direction. I truly admire the leadership of Mariana Mazzucato () and her institute to drive change for the Public Sector, and for the design of purpose driven Public Private Partnerships. It’s takes a different language, mind-set and energy to engage multiple stakeholders in designing their water related moonshots towards 2030. All commitments (Paris), reports (), frameworks (SDGs) and Sense of Urgency are already there.

ACTION POINT #3: Please share and discuss what’s blocking your moonshot, and work together to change the system.    

Collective Impact (CI4)

What’s next after the conference, and how to activate the Water Action Agenda (WAA ()), now.

The world needs catalytic action, let this conference be the catalyst. As mentioned we are all moving ‘knowledge nodes’ in the subway or water cycle, and together I am convinced we are able to make positive waves. A great example is the UN2023 Gamechanger Challenge () which enables youth to present their local innovations at the conference and are encouraged to develop these into global solutions. They aim to create sustainable and long-term partnerships beyond New York.   

The end of the conference is the start (check-in) and not the finish. I am looking forward to meeting you in New York (or online) and I hope that this personal CI guidebook inspires you to on your UN2023 journey. I urge you to take personal leadership moving forward after the conference.

You can challenge me during my next stops in The Netherlands (All Systems Connect), Germany (GWOPA), Singapore (SIWW), Amsterdam (AIWW) and of course via our WOP impact partnerships around the world. We are hosting a (internal) meeting in Amsterdam on the 22th of April to move from Collective Intelligence towards Collective Impact via the #WaterAction Agenda.  

Frodo van Oostveen

CEO – World Waternet

[email protected] ()

Twitter: @Frodo1977 



Please connect with me or one of our partners during one the following sessions () in New York:

Monday 20 March 9.30 – 17.00 Harlem Stage, 150 Convent Avenue, New York

"Water and Heritage: Connecting Past, Present and Future"

A Dialogue among water professionals and culture, heritage professionals

Maarten Ouboter – Strategic Asset Manager, Waternet

Li An Po – Founder Drinkable Rivers

Hadi Toure – IWA Young Professional, PL WOP WWn - SOMAGEP


Monday 20 March 13.00 – 19.00 New York Water House

UN2023 GameChanger Challenge

Tilly Stroo, MD Wavemakers United

Sander Mager – Executive Board Member Water Authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht


Tuesday 21 March 10.30 – 12.00 New York Water House

30-30-30 Youth Commitment event

Frodo van Oostveen, CEO World Waternet

Loay Alatrash, Wetskills, PL WOP – WWn - Palestine Water Authorities

Ayman Kassem, Wetskills, PL WOP – WWn - Yarmouk Water Company


Thursday 23 March 8.30-10.00 Venue: WaterTaxi.

Small investments, big impact. How to finance the gap in regional water management

Blue Deal: Partnership event

Sander Mager – Executive Board Member Water Authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht

Emilie Sturm – Programme Director Blue Deal

Mr Mohammed Shurie, CEO Water Resources Authority, Kenya

Mme Djenaba, DG ANGESEM, Mali


Thursday 23 March 14.00-15.15 Conference Room 3

The Urban Water Catalyst Initiative (UWCI) – Changing the game for financing a water-secure and

climate-resilient future!

Toine Ramakers – CEO VEI

Adriaan Mels – Regional Director VEI


Thursday 23 March 15.00-18.00 The economics of Water UNHQ Conference room 2

Sander Mager – Executive Board Member Water Authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht

Loay Alatrash, Wetskills, PL WOP – WWn - Palestine Water Authorities


Friday 24 March 12.30 – 13.45 Side Event room 11

Forget about SDG6 without strong local water organizations.

WWx In collaboration with GIZ/BlueDeal/UNGWOPA.

Anke Verheiij – Program Director WaterWorX

Hadi Toure – IWA Young Professional, PL WOP WWn - SOMAGEP

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