Day 13 – The AIWW. Sadly, Wetskills the Netherlands 2017 is coming to a close. After a fabulous two-week excursion around the Dutch Delta and intensive work on our case studies, the Amsterdam International Water Week has finally caught up with us. After keeping our emotions bottled up yesterday during the competition, today we could finally relax and allow ourselves to enjoy this famous event of which we are proud to be a part of. We had the opportunity to tour around Aquatech, pop in some seminars, and even participate in conference discussions as young reporters! More importantly, we had the opportunity to do a lot of networking! Some of us (the Egyptians and South Africans) had a special opportunity to spend some time at their embassies on this day, so they were not at the AIWW. This included my blog partner, Asandiso, so we decided that I would write this entry alone to focus solely on the AIWW.
Fig 1: Pipefitting championship at Aquatech
The Aquatech exhibits consisted of some 900 companies, each with a stand to showcase their innovative products, and speaking to anyone interested. Ruchira and I have visited a few stands and the innovators were happy to tell us about their new products (e.g. ozone and UV light technologies for wastewater processing). There was also a pipefitting championship going on, which was very interesting to see. The Dutch corner was the most interesting for me because I plan to work and live in the Netherlands for the coming years, so it is always good to network with companies such as Waternet and the Water Campus. But especially, there was also the Young Water Professionals corner where we had the opportunity to meet students and recent graduates with similar interests as us, as the future of water lies in the hands of young professionals like ourselves who need to come up with new and out of the box solutions for various problems companies and the rest of the world are facing. For me, it was very special to meet the Romanian delegates from “Apele Romane” (Romanian Waters) organization in Bucharest, as I am originally from Romania and I sympathize very much with water issues that the country is now facing, such as erosion of the Black Sea coast. I made some good contacts that could potentially help me in the future to find suitable opportunities.
Fig 2: With the Romanian Delegates from Apele Romane
What I found beautiful about this AIWW event is that it made the world feel smaller-I saw someone from Hamburg University of Technology with whom I have collaborated during my internship at UNESCO-IHE. Also, a friend of mine from UNESCO-IHE who has just finished his PhD, told me that he saw me there. It is extraordinary to know that there is always a “safety net” to fall back on when we are stuck, or looking for new projects, or simply have a question, it is good to have such great contacts in this important and emerging sector. Afterwards, we had to attend a roundtable conference meeting and report on what was being said. I had the lucky opportunity to attend one called “Food and beverage industry: water stewardship”, which was very much about water quality, a topic strongly related to my case study. I had the privilege to sit next to Prof. Arjen Hoekstra from Twente University and Chrysoula Papacharalampou, who will be the new Young Water Professionals Ambassador. The other attendees came from different backgrounds such as water resources, Shell, and businesses (i.e. L’Oréal). The discussion was very interesting and focused on 4 key points: transparency and water efficiency, reporting and accountability, sustainability and impact, and water in relation to other aspects. The take home message was: both positive and negative aspects need to be investigated, transparency and communication are most important, and young talents should be targeted more to help deal with these issues.
Fig 3: A wine glass someone drew during the discussion to show the difference in pop. distribution between regular consumers, companies, and the rich few
Following the reporting session, we had the opportunity to attend a seminar. I chose to attend the ‘Transboundary River Basin Management’ one, but I was so sleepy and my eyes stung so much, that I decided to leave early and go back to Aquatech to do some more networking :p.
Fig 4: Transboundary River Basin Management seminar
The day ended with a lovely and delicious dinner at a Middle Eastern restaurant. I had “Tepsi” and homemade tea. Then, we all went back to the hostel and snuggled in our beds, and anticipating our last day in this intensive but rewarding program.
By Diana and Asandiso