December 15, 2014 Society

IWA World Water Congress Synthesis Report: Shaping Our Water Future

In late September 2014, global attention focused on two assemblies separated by five time zones across one ocean. New York and Lisbon hosted influential gatherings to advance human progress in the face of escalating competition over finite natural resources, in particular: water.

The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition Synthesis Report (download), published today, is a groundbreaking report documenting the key discussions and debates that took place in Lisbon between water professionals from within and outside the water sector.

The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition set itself the goal of ‘shaping our water future’ and to play a catalytic role in addressing the challenges and opportunities for a sustainable, equitable and secure water future for all.

Dr. Ger Bergkamp, Executive Director at the International Water Association, commented, “If there was one message to take away from the IWA Congress & Exhibition it is that, when it comes to securing our water future, we have an enormous opportunity to get it right. This Synthesis Report reflects that optimism, while recognising the enormous challenges ahead.”


The IWA Congress brought together over 5,500 professionals, from 109 countries, working for utilities, technology companies, universities, scientific institutes, research organisations, government and industry. They presented new research and science, showcased leading edge technologies and best practices, and facilitated wide ranging discussions about what the future should look like and how we can get there.

To ‘get there’ we need to address the major issues at scale and on time. We need to recognize that the challenge ahead is unprecedented – billions of people gaining access to modern water and sanitation services and cities and industries reducing water pollution dramatically…no small feat to accomplish.

We need to work on many fronts: technological innovation and entrepreneurship, behaviour change and social movements, audacious government policies and regulations, and investments from public and private entities alike.

By sparking debates on our water future, the IWA Congress & Exhibition delivered new ideas and brokered solutions for current and emerging priorities; it brought together new alliances of people to address global water challenges; and it helped connect the water sector to other sectors that have a profound impact on water resources.

The Congress was successful in pushing the boundaries of what is possible and in showing what can be done. The discussions over the future of water continue, but by participating in the Lisbon Congress water professionals from across the world have brought us closer to finding the solutions to global water challenges.