Wetskills-USA 2023 (UN)

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Wetskills-USA 2023 (UN)

March 11, 2023 - March 22, 2023

About The Event

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Wetskills event at the UN 2023 Water Conference

The United Nations organized the Water Conference 2023 at the UN Headquarters in New York from 22 to 24 March 2023. Tajikistan and The Netherlands were co-hosting this unique water event, and Henk Ovink, Dutch Special Envoy International Water Affairs and Wetskills Ambassador, had invited the Wetskills Team to organize a Water Challenge event during this UN Conference: Wetskills-USA 2023 (UN)!

Our partners in this event were the UN2023 GameChanger Challenge (UN2023-GCC) by Wavemakers United and IHE Delft, and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

The winning ideas of the UN2023-GCC challenge were adopted as cases for our Wetskills challenge. So, the Wetskills teams picked up their ideas, to co-create a first step towards implementation. The ideas were presented at a special workshop on youth engagement during the New York Water Week.

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Event Cases

Case 1: Artificial Glaciers for water conservation in mountains 

Case owner: Team Ladakh (India)

The Trans-Himalayan region is primarily agrarian and depends on glacial melt as the main source of water. Due to reduction in winter precipitation, water flow is erratic during the spring sowing season, impacting agriculture. Increase in average temperatures and precipitation during summers elevates the frequency of flash floods. Since the 12th century, local communities have used the annual freeze-thaw cycle to conserve water. New challenges such as climate change, water scarcity and population growth ask for a modernizing perspective of ancient practices. How can Mountainous areas and their communities ensure water availability during the year? Is the concept of artificial glaciers the key to a solution?

Case 2: Plastic collection & recycling system

Case owner: Team Oceanic (South Africa)

Plastic pollution is a global problem. The sources are not always clear, leaving land spills and beaches overflowing with plastic litter. This leads to environmental challenges, especially for animals, as well as health risks. Efforts intended to tackle the plastic pollution problem are either focused on reducing the plastics: using less plastic in products or using recycled plastic, or efforts are focused on collecting plastics. If both these strategies are to be successful, the local community needs to be involved. Within the vision of the Circular Economy, can local communities combine these strategies and work towards a closed loop of plastic production, consumption and recycling?

Case 3: Rainwater harvesting systems for resilient cities

Case owner: Team Pauwes (Ghana/Nigeria)

Growing water scarcity, climate change, rapid urbanization, and increased demand for water are a combination of challenges best described as a wicked problem. For cities and communities to become resilient, the long-term benefits of using alternative water sources, such as rainwater, are key. Rainwater harvesting techniques have been used for thousands of years. How can we ensure these approaches are future proof? Think of new technologies and modernization, but also how to involve the local community, raise awareness and education. How can we save and secure (rain)water in cities?

Case 4: Nature based solutions in water treatment processes

Case owner: Team Algaenius (The Netherlands)

Water scarcity is a growing problem. Using and reusing our water in a smart and circular way, becomes therefore essential. Current water treatment processes are advanced and able to produce sufficiently clean water, so it returns to nature, rivers and oceans in a safe way. However, this is not completely circular. Thinking like nature, in other words: nature-based innovations, offer a different aspect of solutions. How can we create a water treatment process that is both future proof and nature inclusive? How can Nature Based Solutions contribute to water treatment processes?

Case 5: Smart technologies in water analysis

Case owner: Team Sigmuan (The Philippines)

Industrialization caused the contamination of surface and groundwater with harmful pollutants. These include petroleum hydrocarbons, urban and agricultural runoffs, and pharmaceuticals. The Quality monitoring and data-gathering is essential to improve water quality and signal areas that deserve more attention. However, resources are limited in both technical, financial and human capital terms – especially in communities that are less accessible (e.g. indigenous people, mountainous areas, SIDS). How can this limitation be overcome by using smart technologies, to reduce the impact of water quality disasters and ensure clean, affordable water for consumption and production.

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March 11, 2023
March 22, 2023
Event Category:


New York, USA
New York, United States