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Uniting for sustainable water cycle management: insights from the Global Water Summit 2024

23 April 2024

In London, amidst the historic backdrop of the Thames, water specialist and leaders from across the globe gathered for the Global Water Summit 2024 incl. Leading Utilities of the World workshop.

This summit serves as a crucial platform where global influencers, innovators, and stakeholders converge to tackle the most pressing challenges and opportunities in water cycle management. From government representatives to utility executives, technology pioneers to investors, and NGO leaders, the summit draws a diverse array of participants united by a common goal: to drive sustainable solutions for the world's water crises. Frodo van Oostveen (CEO - World Waternet) and Lars van Schagen (project employee - Swimmable Rivers) represented World Waternet and Swimmable Rivers in round table settings.

Water is a common good  public leadership.jpg
Global Water Summit in London 2024.

Key insights, lessons learned

Reflecting on the dynamic exchanges and impassioned discussions that unfolded during the summit, it became evident that a profound shift in perspective was underway. Beyond viewing water as merely a sector, attendees recognized it as a fundamental global common good, deserving of collective stewardship and action. This understanding sparked a shared determination, summed up in six important ideas that really struck a chord with everyone involved:It’s not climate change, its Water Cycle change.jpg
It’s not climate change, its Water Cycle change.

  1. Forging international partnerships for collective impact #WaterCycle: The interconnected nature of water challenges demands collaboration across sectors and geographical boundaries. By fostering partnerships with non-water professionals, we enrich our perspectives and amplify our collective impact towards sustainable water cycle management. “We should acknowledge water as a theme, not as a sector”. #GWOPA #WaterWorX #DWA #BlueDeal  #WaterCommission
  2. Investing in our most valuable asset; people and thus our critical water infrastructure: Acknowledging that human capital is the cornerstone of effective water cycle management, there is an urgent need to prioritize employee engagement and mentorship, especially for the next generation of water leaders. What’s your retirement and/or retention ratio for public water organisations? #TeamH2O (USA) #HR #303030 #IWA 
  3. Water people: talk the walk: As custodians of water resources, it is incumbent upon us to showcase the positive impact of our endeavors. By spotlighting success stories and innovations, we inspire others to join the ranks of water. We have an obligation to share what kind of critical work we are doing. For every negative story, you can easily come up with 10 positive stories. #WaterHeroes (DK) #Communications #LUOW 
  4. Connecting people to water and cultivate it #Bluemind: We believe in bringing water closer to people, whether it's through guided tours, of wastewater treatment plants, swimming in our rivers, or advocating for accessible waterways. By immersing individuals in the beauty and importance of water, we empower them to take ownership and become stewards of this vital resource. We need to create more awareness. So involve your community. Bring the water cycle to them. #waterambassadors #CollectiveAction #ValueWater #SwimmableRivers 
  5. Fair water pricing for all: As World Waternet we believe that water should be a common good. We need to make sure everyone gets fair access to water. That means fixing the differences in water prices so that every community gets what it needs. By thinking about the extra costs and fairness when setting prices, we can build a future where everyone has enough water, and work towards a sustainable and inclusive global future. #WaterFootPrint #Regulations #CorporateStewardship
  6. Prioritizing Mental Health and Wellbeing: To achieve our water cycle management goals, it's crucial to take care of our mental health and that of our colleagues. Building a supportive culture where kindness and resilience are valued ensures that our water cycle and communities stay strong for the long haul. It’s time to check-in together. #MentalHealth #Jacobs #Tideway 

Summary plenary closing OECD Global Commision on the Economics of Water.jpg
Summary plenary closing OECD Global Commision on the Economics of Water.

Only together with international partners we can work towards a future in which the water cycle is managed and protected globally in a healthy manner, for the benefit of everyone.