Looking ahead to the Singapore Water Convention 2022

The Water Convention, co-organised by PUB and IWA, will be at the heart of Singapore International Water Week 2022, running 17-21 April 2022. The Source hears from Darryl Day, co-chair of the Water Convention Programme Committee and CEO of the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust

Q: There are keynote presentations covering the SDGs, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and finance. Why do you feel it is important to frame the event with these topics?

Darryl Day: The Opening Plenary for the Water Convention starts the conversation for the technical programme. The Plenary should challenge, inspire, and share ways to make a difference.

The presentation by Patrick Moriarty, from the International Centre for Water and Sanitation, on a systems approach to achieving SDG 6 is an important conversation about the enabling environment, capacity, capability, and partnerships. We have technical solutions, but we need the right balance of evolution and transformation to deliver the SDG 6 challenges.

The challenge of water security will increase for many regions and countries with climate change. The Singapore Water Convention is about water and liveability solutions – solutions that provide increased resilience, solutions that are sustainable, solutions that are transformative in considering the circular economy and nexus between water, energy and food. It is important to start our conversation at the Plenary in Singapore on the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability with climate change. The bar in addressing water security is continually being raised by the science of climate change as we look at local impacts.

Finance is the greatest challenge in providing basic water and sanitation services. Not only for infrastructure, but creating the enabling environment, building capacity and capability, and implementing sustainable solutions. Technology solutions are continuously emerging and being adapted, but the challenge and need for innovative approaches is in finance. We will hear from both the Green Climate Fund and World Bank on approaches to address finance and to partner for sustainable, transformative investments.

The programme includes a diverse set of ‘hot issues’ workshops. Why do you feel the workshop format is important?

DD: The Hot Issues Workshops on Sunday provide an opportunity to address issues that require a lens-like focus or, for innovation, a transdisciplinary approach. We have designed the workshops with global thought leaders to provide a deep dive into issues with the participants. The informality of the Sunday programme enriches the engagement and conversations. We are covering the big issues of ‘Digital Transformation of the Water Sector and Role of Digital Twins’, ‘The Future of Seawater Desalination: Innovations in Desalting and Brine Management’, ‘Sustainable Wastewater Management in Developing Countries’, ‘Coastal Revitalisation’, and ‘Reuse and Recycling of Domestic Water – Benefits, Health risks, and Consumers’ Inclusivity’. Each is challenging for the sector, where we seek to share understanding and establish a pathway forward.

For the technical programme, what for you are some of the really interesting aspects to have emerged that you are looking forward to hosting?

DD: In 2022, the SIWW Water Convention has introduced a new theme – ‘Nexus & Circularity’ – as a focus on the cross-cutting issues of sustainability, the circular economy, the nexus between energy and water, and the enabling policy forward water services of the future. I am looking forward to the opportunity this theme provides in broadening conversations between the water community and other stakeholders, especially the community and customers. The important conversations of the SIWW Water Convention addressing livability, resilience and sustainability of our cities, and water-health challenges will attract global leaders, scientists and those implementing solutions. Similarly, we have four parallel sessions addressing water and wastewater treatment, supply, conveyance, and asset management technologies.

Overall, how do you feel about the spirit of innovation around the water sector?

DD: Since 2008, SIWW has presented water solutions for the region, drawing from the best global minds and practices. Innovation has been at the core in transforming water and wastewater services and we are seeing significantly different solutions emerge, particularly through digital water, lower energy needs, resource recovery, and the focus on the end user. What SIWW provides is a platform to not only see and discuss the innovations, but debate the impact of adoption, and the emerging trends.

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