Setting the global agenda
‘Water is an important topic for the world, and for me. It literally ‘knits everything together’. At the same time, water is also an omnipresent and hyper localised compound. As full Professor of Environmental Technology & Design at TU Delft and Scientific Director of the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (funded by TUD, MIT and WUR) my everyday practice strongly connects to challenges related to water. The AIWW Conference not only connects people and solutions to these challenges, it also sets the global water agenda.
From cases to bankable projects
Cities are dense networks of interwoven socio-spatial processes that are simultaneously human, material, natural, discursive, cultural and organic. Their prosperity and robustness depend on the continuous metabolism of mineral, water and energy resources. Their double complexity (systems and human behaviour), their interactions among several dynamic agents and their nestedness blurs the boundaries of cities as complex systems.
Furthermore, cities are composed of interactive components that may change their roles over time in unpredictable ways. Urban ecosystems contain co-evolving species and systems, and follow unique evolutionary trajectories. Currently there are answers to emerging issues. However, the frameworks presently governing metropolitan water solutions are not able to ensure accountability at all times. As the pervasiveness, complexity, and scale of these systems grow, the lack of meaningful integrated solutions is of increasingly urgent concern.
Why attend the AIWW Conference?
At present, society, and in particular cities, is confronted with a number of increasingly unmanageable crises, from the triple threat of climate change, water scarcity and environmental degradation to the deterioration of water supply and sanitation networks which will soon require radical retrofitting and/or complete replacement. Our demands on the biosphere are growing at such an exponential pace that we have disrupted the dynamic equilibrium of the compound most integral to life. This is most apparent in the countries of the Global South, where billions living in slums still lack easy access to clean water.
The AIWW Conference brings together top notch specialists in the field, and should be considered as one of the three leading networking and ‘solutions oriented’ events in the world.
What to take away from the AIWW Conference
What I personally would like to take away from the conference are: essential components of integrated solutions, and the integration of technical and social perspectives in water challenges.
The sum of the technical and socio-economic processes that occur in cities supports solutions to achieve growth and the production of water and renewable water. But they also address related resources like energy and the elimination of waste. This would improve equity, sustainability and liveability in both the developing as well as the developed world.’