6th International Symposium on Knowledge and Capacity for the Water Sector

About the Symposium

Despite great progress in extending water and sanitation services globally, our world is currently facing more, and more urgent, challenges around water security than ever before. We are still far from reaching the SDG 6 (and other water-related) goals on water supply and sanitation. The insecurity and risks associated with water scarcity, flooding, storm surges and sea-level rise are increasing. The combined forces of climate change and growing water demand propelled by economic growth could see the world tip from a predominantly water-abundant place, to one that is predominantly water-scarce by 2045. At the same time as the urgency increases, new investments and policies must navigate deeper regulatory, financial and political complexity and provide answers for a future that brings growing uncertainty.

In this 6th International Symposium on Knowledge and Capacity in the Water Sector, IHE Delft, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, OECD, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Cap-Net/UNDP, Deltares, the UNHABITAT/Global Water Operator Partnership Alliance, Rand Water and others will convene leaders in the water profession and beyond to explore what the future is likely to bring and how new developments in implementation science can help us to act by strengthening institutional capacity. By bringing together key stakeholders to consider the most pressing challenges and emerging solutions in the field, the Symposium aims to identify and improve upon the concepts, priorities, strategies and tools to develop institutional capacity and share knowledge at a global scale for addressing these challenges. The Symposium will help outline the core skills, knowledge and attitudes the world’s water professionals and the institutions will need, and to build clear commitment to identify and act on concrete multi-stakeholder actions.

The Symposium aims to build on the concepts of capacity development and move towards an implementation science. Though most countries now dispose of policies, laws and plans, their effective implementation remains the systemic challenge. Implementation science is commonly defined as the study of strategies and methods to promote the embedding into routine practice of interventions that have proven effective, with the aim of enhancing overall water security.

Capacity development extends beyond education and training, and strengthening skills, competencies, and attitudes of individuals. The capacity of water agencies and of the sector as a whole is more than the cumulative capacity of these organisations’ staff. Institutions and the sector benefit from a conducive institutional architecture, incentives and procedures that structure critical reflection, help acquire knowledge and strengthen learning. Low organisational performance is often related to structural weaknesses in procedures and human resources management that discourage learning from successes and failures, and fail to support change in habits and practices. At the same time, the educational agenda remains central to expand and share the ‘knowledge pool’ and enable society to make better informed choices and play a growing role in water management. But are curricula, didactic, and participatory systems adjusted to meet these imminent challenges?