June 27, 2019 DigitalisationSDGs

The future is today

“For future water leaders to take advantage of the huge potential of digital technologies, they need to have a clear purpose – be it improving environmental sustainability, reducing operational costs, enhancing customer management, but always taking into account the social and economic conditions of the place they’re working on,” stresses Eva Martínez Diaz, responsible for the Smart Services within the Innovation Department at Aqualia, at the IWA International Young Water Professionals conference, held in Toronto from 23 to 27 of June 2019.

Insights about digital disruption in the water utility value chain, and how young water professionals can extract the best value out of a mine of opportunities emerging from digitalisation have featured prominently in this year’s edition.

As we move into a digital economy, we need young talent that can “lead people through this intimidating territory – the type of person that can create a vision for people of what the benefits of digital water are that will change their lives, and the world, ultimately”, says Wesley D. From, Vice President Research and Deveopment, Trojan Technologies.

From left to right, Xiaoyuan Zhang, IWA Young Water Professional, Eva Martínez Diaz, responsible for the Smart Services within the Innovation Department at Aqualia, Wesley D. From, Vice President Research and Development Trojan Technologies, during a panel on Digital Water at the IWA International Young Water Professionals conference.


These traits and qualities point out to a radical transformation of the future workforce in the water sector. To address the myriad of complex, multi-faceted water challenges the planet faces today, engineers, economists, psychologists, sociologists, informaticians, anthropologists – you name it- will be part of this transdisciplinary network of young water professionals.

Worldwide, the water sector is facing the dual challenge of an ageing water infrastructure in urgent need of repair, maintenance or restoration, and an ageing workforce eligible for retirement in coming years. Attracting skilled, young talent will be water utilities’ next frontier – and also the greatest opportunity to address these two challenges to deliver successfully on Sustainable Development Goal 6.

Ensuring a pipeline for new talent in the water sector is at the heart of the IWA Young Water Professionals programme and its flagship event, the International Young Water Professionals Conference. The global leading event ‘for young water leaders by young water leaders’, the 9th IWA International Young Water Professionals Conference has attracted over 270 young water sector leaders from around the world to debate the challenges and solutions facing the water sector and the role of young professionals within it.

The International Young Water Professionals Conference offers learning and professional development opportunities; and enables networking amongst young professionals. The event bridges the gap between the science, practice and policy of water management, to deliver practical solutions that help achieve the globally agreed 2030 Sustainable Development Goal vision for water.

“This conference is about getting together Young Water Professionals from around the world to discuss and share new innovations and ideas that can empower them to roll out back home”, says Christopher DeGroot, Programme Committee Chair.

Young professionals need to be at the forefront of delivering the 2030 agenda, and this conference is a unique venue to further skill our future water leaders to tackle the demands from the water sector and beyond. As the winner of the 2018 IWA Young Water Professionals Award and keynote speaker at the conference, Jacob Amengor of Ghana Water Company, passionately states: “Young water professionals are the drivers of change, not its beneficiaries”.

“It has been our dream to host an event where like-minded, passionate, and driven individuals can get together to share their work while networking with one another”, says Siva Sarathy PhD, PEng, Chair IWA Young Water Professionals Canada. “We are pleased to welcome everyone to Toronto and demonstrate how Canada, and Southwestern Ontario, is a global hotspot for water science, technology, and action”.