Water Reuse Europe promotes ‘Actionable Water Reuse’ at UN Water conference in New York
The UN 2023 Water Conference, took place from 22-24 March in New York. This was a big event for the international water community since it was the first edition for this generation. The event gathered around 10,000 participants – at the UN Headquarters, at different location across New York City and online – for three days of discussions to urgently scale up action to address the water crisis.
The opening of the UN Water Conference set the scene for the following days with no shadow of a doubt. United Nations-General Antonio Guterres stated “This is more than a conference on water. It is a conference on today’s world seen from the perspective of its most important resource.”
Water Reuse Europe (WRE) co-organised with VITO a side event on the evening of March 22, entitled “Actionable water reuse: valuing water for sustainable economic development.” The event took place at the beautiful venue of “Flanders House”, located on the 38th floor of the New York Times Building on 8th Avenue. The full program can be viewed here.
The session, chaired by Dirk Halet from Vlakwa, was opened by the Flemish Minister of Environment, Zuhal Demir, explaining how the Flemish “Blue Deal”, is supporting a pro-active, systemic approach for the battle against droughts.
The first part of the session focussed on recognizing the value of water to accelerate water reuse and contained three pitches.
- The secret to successful reuse schemes – Inge Genné, Water Reuse Europe
- How to ensure economic sustainability for water reuse? – David Smith, WE&B
- Pricing and business models to enhance correct valuing of natural Resources – Steven Broeckx, VITO
On behalf of Water Reuse Europe, Inge Genné from VITO presented her view on the the secrets for the implementation of successful reuse schemes by explaining the need to look for leverage, so-called “win-win-wins”, the need for frontrunners and an active governance. The full presentation can be consulted here.
The second part of the session was highly interactive, designed to challenge the panelists and audience to make the transition from systems thinking to systemic actions. Three experts were invited to the floor:
- Systems thinking and co-creation to build sustainable Water-Energy-Food pathways – Edo Abraham, AMS
- Youth and digital innovation as game changer – Karin de Sousa Pesse, Salesforce
- From reactive to proactive drought measures in living labFlanders – Barbara Vael, Flemish Environment Agency.
After the introduction statements, the moderator (Yves De Weerdt from VITO-Nexus) invited the panelists to participate in a small act where water was poured and they all had to catch it blindfoldedly. This set the scene for a lively discussion with the audience on the distribution of water, communication and collaboration challenges. The interactive format was highly appreciated by the participants and created a good introduction for the networking session, labelled “no water no beer”.
The result of the UN water conference and the engagements for the Water Action Agenda will further feed into the SDG-water theme through via the September SDG-summit.
Programme Manager Water, Vito, Belgium
Director of Water Reuse Europe.