Raise your (water) glass and celebrate: World Water Week is upon us!
This week, this annual international water conference held by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) brings together nearly six thousand water researchers, policy makers, and professionals from around the globe to discuss some of the most pressing water-related issues our planet faces. According to the conference website, this year’s theme is Building Resilience Faster, which “focus[es] on concrete solutions to the world’s greatest water-related challenges, starting with the climate crisis and including water scarcity, food security, health, biodiversity, and impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.” With a focus on scientific collaboration and problem-solving, the conference is sure to inspire scientific synthesis and promises to act as a springboard for evidence-based action for water policy and projects.
PLOS Water’s Executive Editor Dr. Susan Hepp and co-Editor-In-Chief Dr. Jenna Davis (Stanford University, Woods Institute for the Environment) will be presenting at the conference on Thursday in their session Open Access Publishing with PLOS Water. “PLOS Water is excited to talk about the urgent need for open access research in the water sector to promote accelerated collaboration and evidence-based action during a time where the global water crisis needs solutions now,” explains Dr. Hepp.
Also front and center this year is the effect of climate change on water and society, with an emphasis on bridging together diverse water sectors to solve problems faster. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday bring a three part SIWI series titled Still breaking silos: Climate action and water across sectors and boundaries which discusses the interaction between climate change and water management, societies, ecosystems, and economies, and outlines how inter-sectoral cooperation can strengthen water resilience in these areas. Wednesday’s panel Intersectoral cooperation: A catalyst for climate resilience and SDG6 acceleration also discusses how cooperation between water resources and WASH actors is necessary to support both climate resilience and the advancement of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6), which is centered on making clean water and sanitation sustainably available to all.
Another clear focus of the conference this year is water resilience in the face of pandemics like COVID-19. Tuesday’s seminar Resilient Communities in the Face of Pandemics and Climate Change covers examples of water, sanitation, and hygiene resilience across Latin America during the pandemic and through climate change. Another SIWI series on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday called Climate finance for a green Covid-19 recovery talks about the importance of investing in sustainable, climate-proof water and sanitation projects in light of the gaps in water services seen by vulnerable populations during the pandemic.
The importance of ecological resilience, sustainability, and nature-based solutions is also a well-covered topic this year. Wednesday’s session Nature-based solutions for water sustainability: The peri-urban challenge explores examples from the international project NATWIP for developing, evaluating, and sustaining nature-based solutions from an environmental, social and economic perspective. Nature as a partner: Implementing nature-based solutions globally discusses the process, financial implications, and lessons learned from applying nature-based Solutions into the existing urban waterscape for flood and storm risk management in various countries around the world.
Beyond the excellent selection of sessions offered, World Water Week’s commitment to scientific equity and Open Science shines through. SIWI’s commitment to diversifying a sector that has historically been demographically homogeneous is showcased by the majority of sessions that meet the conference’s “gold standard” for gender balance and young professional representation. In addition, the conference offers the option of free registration with access to all non-networking sessions. This, coupled with a virtual conference platform, makes this year’s conference one of the most accessible large scientific conferences we have heard of.
Whether you are presenting, hosting a panel, or participating, we hope you have a wonderful conference, and we will see you there! Make sure to check out @PLOSWater on Twitter for live-tweets all through #WWWeek. If you’re attending World Water Week, also make sure to stop by PLOS Water’s session Open Access Publishing with PLOS Water on Thursday 16:10-16:55 Stockholm time (CEST).