October 7, 2019 Latin AmericaSDGs

Shining a Light on Sustainable Use of Water in Ecuador

By 2015 most of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean had reached the Millenium Development Goals, however, according to the more ambitious targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, the region is still far from securing universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Today, only 65% of the population has access to safe and affordable drinking water, and 19 million people still practice open defecation. It is becoming evidently clear that we must accelerate innovation in water and sanitation if we are to bridge the gap to 2030. With this in mind, the International Water Association (IWA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) organised the first Innovation Conference on Sustainable Use of Water: Cities, Industry and Agriculture last week at the ESPOL, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and many exceptional things resulted from this multidisciplinary encounter.

Concrete calls to action on the Sustainable Use of Water in Cities, Industry and Agriculture

The content was thematically categorised by tracks: Innovation, Cities, Industry, Agriculture and Cross-Cutting, all of which built up calls for action from prior discussions with presenters and consequent engagement with attendees onsite.

Marcello Basani, Senior Specialist on Water and Sanitation at IDB, and Will Sarni, CEO and Founder of Water Foundry, presented the call for action related to Innovation, expressing the urge to support innovators by creating reward incentives, promoting piloting and encouraging the application of best practices and sustainable technologies, and using existing water innovation funds or creating new ones; to contribute to an innovation repository based on value, technological maturity and scalability; to promote a culture of innovation that permeates through all levels of an organisation; to create open innovation platforms or marketplaces to pilot and scale innovation; to integrate innovation in education of water professionals, conforming a community of innovators at the intersect of the water profession; and to convene innovation events to ensure progress is made to achieve strategic goals in the water sector.

​​Luis Domínguez, director of the Center for Water and Sustainable Development, CADS-ESPOL, shared some of the agreed solutions to increase water use efficiency in Agriculture through better crop selection and improved agricultural practices; the use of technologies, such as remote sensing, online and real-time monitoring of agricultural watersheds, tailor-made monitoring programmes, based on local conditions; in addition to institutional aspects necessary for the sustainable use of water, in terms of improved regulations and their enforcement, as well as the identification of incentives for more efficient use of water by users.

For the Cities track, Oliver Maennicke, member of the IWA Specialist Group on Sustainability in the Water Sector, and member of IWA Young Water Professional Chapter in Austria, referred to the IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities as a holistic framework to promote water-wise systems and activate actors of change; provide a platform and opportunities for continued knowledge sharing of water-wise experiences, success stories and solutions; support and promote the commitment of these cities to the implementation of sustainable practices; and to strengthen the community of stakeholders supporting the concept and practice of water-wise cities.

Cheryl Davis, Chair of the IWA Specialist Group on Sustainability in the Water Sector introduced some of the principles to encourage sustainable use of water by Industry, including increased awareness of the opportunities through modified business strategies, technologies and practices, such as improved sharing of water stewarship programmes and practices; promote the use of incentives and enforce penalties for unsustainable use; and accelerate the pace of improvement in industrial water use by working with all sectors to develop long-term plans.

Within the framework of the Cross-Cutting track, Peter Goethals, Professor at the University of Ghent, referred to calls for action on issues that cut across sustainable water management; among these, the standardization of international concepts, standards and directives and the need to determine what a general or local application may have; the improvement in communication and education on water management, taking advantage of channels worldwide and the use of new technologies; as well as the systematic way of transmitting the messages.


CEMDES, Business Council for Sustainable Development of Ecuador, convenes the business sector to Call for Action in favor of sustainable use of water 

Within the framework of the IWA-IDB Innovation Conference on Sustainable Water Use: Cities, Industry and Agriculture, 19 Ecuadorian companies signed the Call to Action for the business sector for sustainable use of water. The signatories of this call to action will form a Working Group (WG) for the Sustainable Use of Water, a space that will facilitate the exchange of information and experiences, develop online training programs and indicators, and report on at least two of the principles every year within this WG. 

19 Ecuadorian companies sign “Call to Action” in favor of sustainable water use with occasion of the IWA-IDB Innovation Conference on Sustainable Use of Water.


Foundation of the IWA Governing Member in Ecuador and Young Water Professionals Chapter

The ESPOL professor and researcher Indira Nolivos explained the formation of the IWA Governing Member in Ecuador, which integrates 10 Ecuadorian universities and about 50 water professionals from different fields within academia. Luis Domínguez was elected President of the Ecuadorian chapter, and Diana Ulloa and Giovanni Ginata, as Vice-Chairs.

“We have already three activities to focus on next year, but the idea is to continue finding new opportunities to grow, tackle our most pressing water challenges and contribute to society with solutions,” Luis Domínguez added.



Introduction to the IWA Young Water Professionals programme at the IWA-IDB Innovation conference in Guayaquil, Ecuador

Ideas into Action Award 2019

The closing of the IWA-IDB Innovation Conference on Sustainable Use of Water: Cities, Industries and Agriculture, concluded with the presentation of the Ideas into Action 2019 Award, which recognizes some of the most innovative water and sanitation companies in Latin America and the Caribbean. The three finalist companies presented their proposals to the jury. AySA: Agua y saneamiento argentinos, S.A .; participated with the proposal “Use of EDAR biosolids as landfill coverage”; SABESP: Basic sanitation company of the State of Sao Paulo, proposed “Circular economy in wastewater treatment”; and Aguas Regionales EPM S.A. E.S.P., from Colombia, participated with “Aerial aqueduct and life trails”.

The jury awarded the Brazilian company SABESP, “for being a conceptualized solution from beginning to end, with a business model and the participation of a network of local and foreign companies,” as expressed during the recognition delivery.



The IWA-IDB Innovation Conference on Sustainable Water Use: Cities, Industries and Agriculture was organised by the International Water Association (IWA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) under the coordination of the IWA Specialist Group on Sustainability in the Water Sector and with the collaboration of the University of Ghent, the Polytechnic School of the Espol, Latin American Association of Water Desalination and Reuse (Aladyr), Vlir Network Ecuador, Cemdes, SGS, Isle Utilities and the municipality of Guayaquil.