Destination Denmark – the IWA World Water Congress Exhibition 2022

“The theme of this year’s Congress is reflected by Denmark’s goals for its cities." Lea Wermelin, Minister for Environment, Denmark © Miljøministeriet

The Copenhagen edition of the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition will be with us shortly. Based in the fantastic facilities of the Bella Center, the highlight of IWA’s calendar delivers a comprehensive programme. This spans the regular features of these events, not least the high-quality technical programme, as well as exciting new additions, such as IWA’s first hosting of an Operations Challenge for utility teams to show off their skills. Combined, this provides an outstanding opportunity for everyone present – the many delegates, exhibitors, sponsors, and wider array of visitors – to meet, network, share experiences, do business, catch up with friends old and new, and more besides.

Programme Features

The week’s busy schedule includes some particular highlights.

The High-Level Summit (Monday 12) has a theme of ‘Water as a Key to Action on Climate and the SDGs’.

Organised by IWA, Danish Water and Wastewater Association, the Municipality of Copenhagen, P4G and the Confederation of Danish Industry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment of Denmark and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the Summit will bring together an invited audience that will include government ministers and mayors. The day will be built around sessions focused on three themes – financing, governance, and partnerships. The aim is to help raise the visibility of water, looking ahead in particular to next year’s UN Water Summit and the UN Climate Change COP 27 meeting.

Denmark is noted for its groundwater expertise, so it is highly appropriate that the programme will feature a Groundwater Forum (Monday 12). Presented by the Capital Region of Denmark and ATV Soil and Groundwater, this open forum aims to help promote groundwater as a critical resource in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially securing safe drinking water for all.

The Congress will once again feature a Utility Leaders Forum (Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14) at which prominent figures from the utility community will engage in sessions focused on accelerating adoption of innovation, evolving with climate change, utility digitalisation, and the new societal role of utilities in creating our cities of the future.

Activities for and by Young Water Professionals will feature throughout the week, and these include the Emerging Water Leaders Forum (Tuesday 13). The topic of this year’s Forum is Challenges in the Water Sector and how to make an impact as a Young Water Professional.

The programme also caters for different water uses and user groups and will include the Industrial Water Users Forum (Tuesday 13). Given industry’s needs and impacts, core topics of the Forum include water stewardship, incentivising sustainability, and tools such as efficiency and reuse, and these will be discussed by a spectrum of participants including industry representatives, consultants, technology providers, NGOs, and academics.

Regulation is hugely important in shaping action on water. The Congress will host the 7th IWA International Water Regulators Forum (Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15) – the international meeting of the global network of regulators of IWA. The Forum will consist of 5 sessions, including three that will be by invitation for regulators only.

The inaugural IWA Operations Challenge (Wednesday 14) will take place in the exhibition area and will pit international teams against one another to test their skills across maintenance, collection systems, and safety, with a special side challenge spanning team spirit and collaboration.

Innovation is a theme that runs right throughout the Congress. A special addition in Copenhagen will be the Water Innovation Accelerator, an Innovators Platform workshop (Wednesday 14). The platform is a collaborative effort to inspire innovation around water and is supported by IWA. The first event was held during Singapore International Water Week. Invited international participants will explore opportunities arising from water’s potential to be a vehicle for transformation through the adoption of a circular economy water journey for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The technical programme

The technical programme forms the heart of the Congress, delivered across multiple parallel tracks. It is built around technical sessions and workshops, grouped into the core themes of:

  • Water Utility Management
  • Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery
  • Drinking Water and Potable Reuse
  • City Scale Planning and Operations
  • Communities, Communication, and Partnerships
  • Water Resources and Large-Scale Water Management

The diverse water sector does not fit easily into simple categories and there are topical trends that span these categories.

These include digital water. Delegates with an interest in this might take in sessions such as the workshop on ‘Skills for a Digital Water Future’. Inspired by the IWA Digital White Paper ‘An overview of the future of digital water’, the organisers of this workshop aim to use this training session for skills building and an introduction to digital concepts and ways of working that underpin a future-proof water sector.

Utility management is another cross-cutting theme. Relevant sessions here include the workshop on ‘The Road Towards Climate and Energy Neutral Water Utilities’. This aims to share lessons from leading water utilities in a number of countries on steps taken to be energy efficient, recover energy and later become climate neutral.

Another theme to look out for is circular economy. Delegates with an interest in this might take in the workshop ‘How to Build Integrative, Regional Strategies for Responsible Water Reuse?’.

Climate change adaptation is another topic to feature across the tracks, with relevant sessions including the workshop on ‘Advancing Coastal Resiliency for Imperiled Barrier Island Systems’, which will draw on experiences of the Resilient Long Beach Island Project in the US.

Alongside all of this are the Business Forums, which can be accessed on the floor of the Exhibition, where leading companies from around the world will be gathered. The Forums are a full component of the technical programme, providing a series of sessions where sponsors and exhibitors present their innovations and projects that contribute to shaping our water future.

All of this points to just how varied the programme in Copenhagen will be. Underlining this, some of the topics of other workshops taking place during the Congress include: ‘The Art of Collaboration: Crossing Borders to Solve Systems-Based Problems’, in which attendees will engage with each other to gain an understanding of the various aspects of collaboration, including regulation, governance, economics, management, and leadership; the BioCluster Workshop ‘Microbial Ecology in Water Engineering: From Theory to Practice’; ‘Holistic Approaches to Solving Conflicts About Water’, where the objective will be to develop innovative and sustainable project ideas to solve the most common conflicts related to water issues while considering the economic, social, and environmental aspects’; and ‘The Future of Water Cooperation Programmes: How to Ensure Equal Access to the Best Available Solutions and Technology’.

Nordic know-how

Given the location of the Congress, the event will provide participants with an outstanding opportunity to find out more about the rich skills and experience of the region, especially of the host country. During the Congress, the Danish water sector will share best practices within key Danish competencies such as urban water management, groundwater-based drinking water supply, stormwater management, climate change adaptation, and energy and resource efficiency and recovery.

Participants can access the regional expertise through a strong presence in all the dimensions of the programme and in the Exhibition, including dedicated country pavilions. This also includes taking advantage of the excellent technical tour programme. The tours in Denmark range across themes such as groundwater, resources recovery, climate change, water quality, water loss, and smart liveable cities. There is also a pre-Congress tour to Finland and a post-Congress tour to Sweden.

And more…

There will much more besides all of this, not least the Opening Ceremony and Welcome Reception, which will set the tone for the week ahead. Keynote and plenary sessions will allow delegates to access the insights of high-profile speakers. The Congress week is when IWA reveals winners of its prestigious Awards, with a special event dedicated to the Project Innovation Awards. And the highlight of the week’s social programme will be the Gala Event (Thursday 15), with the spectacular ticket-only function taking place at the Øksnehallen (the Oxen Hall) in the heart of the lively old meat packing district in Copenhagen.

And if you are able to travel to Copenhagen, do please visit the IWA stand in the Exhibition area, where IWA and IWA Publishing staff will be present and hosting activities such as Programme updates and book launches. It would be great to see you there.

For the latest and full details of the full programme and schedule, visit:

Denmark’s goals on Smart Liveable Cities

“The theme of this year’s World Water Congress, ‘Smart Liveable Cities’, is reflected by Denmark’s goals for its cities to be smart in the sense that they utilise intelligent solutions and digitalisation, and liveable in the way that they embrace blue and green solutions that absorb water, providing clean drinking water, efficient sanitation, spaces that enhance health and well-being, safe bathing water, and controlled flooding.”

Lea Wermelin, Minister for Environment, Denmark