Wetskills-The Netherlands, 7 November 2023 (by Jeremy Naidoo, Department of Water and Sanitation, South Africa)
In order to give proper effect to the 2023 edition of Wetskills Netherlands, it is crucial to reflect on the experience to date. Since the kick-off of the programme on 28 October 2023 with 27 participants from all parts of the globe several lessons were learnt. More than a week in and it is fascinating to witness how a group of “strangers” with a keen interest in water have become family.
Now with strong bonds forged between 5 groups the final push is near. The saying “teamwork makes for dreamwork” is applicable, as many of the groups made the final cuts on their conference paper and poster with some final pitch preparations and consultation.
The Aquatec Exhibition the previous day set the scene for the Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW) and the day has finally arrived! Due to the opening of the AIWW at 08:30 of the conference, Wetskills group refuelled with a quick breakfast booster at the hostel and off to the conference.
The AIWW started promptly at 08:30 am with an impactful introduction of the current water challenges faced that can be made more severe by a changing climate. Dr Sanne Derks a photojournalist and author of a new photo book on water shared her experiences of water challenges experienced in Cuba, including the impact of drought and access to water.
Professor Savec from the University of Exeter in the UK emphasised the need to spare a thought for people who don’t have the basic right to water. Dr Savic put forward an impactful presentation on how to deal with urban planning of water infrastructure due to the rapid development of cities. He showed the uncertainty forecasts of global temperature and the need to consider adaptive planning and make decisions now.
The impactful introductory plenary session was followed by a coffee break and then on to the pitch rehearsal at the future water leader’s corner.
A number of interesting talks with varying interests was then on offer to feed the multidisciplinary backgrounds of the water sector and then on to lunch.
This was followed by the afternoon session which involved some interactive sessions including how to address urban design and shortage of housing, while considering the long-term impact of climate change and its linkages to water and environment.
The evening ended with an amazing round of dinner and dance and of to the final leg of the challenge!