Shaping our water future – IWA’s World Water Congress & Exhibition comes to Toronto

Toronto, Canada, is soon to host IWA’s 2024 World Water Congress & Exhibition (WWCE) – an event that promises to bring together the world’s leading experts in the water sector to advance the solutions that will deliver a safe, sustainable, and equitable water future.

Thousands of leading water professionals and companies will convene at WWCE on 11-15 August for the gathering of thought-leaders, decision-makers, researchers and business leaders – from both within and outside the water sector – seeking solutions to the world’s most pressing water challenges.

Extensive programme

Eveline Volcke, Programme Committee co-chair, says: “With our 24-member programme committee, we have put together what we hope delegates will experience as a very exciting programme of technical sessions, workshops and poster presentations.”

WWCE will provide showcase the latest innovations and experiences in the sector, focusing on six themes.

“In total, there are over 100 technical sessions with oral presentations and poster pitches, as well as over 70 workshops,” says Volcke. “Some themes will have more technical sessions and some more workshops, depending on their nature. There are a lot of workshops under the utility management theme, involving a high degree of audience interaction around pressing issues such as climate change adaptation and mitigation, and data management.

“Besides the technical sessions and the workshops, we have hundreds of posters which allow delegates to get a good overview of a subject and absorb a lot of information in a short time.

“I really hope delegates will take this conference as an opportunity to deepen their knowledge, as well as to broaden their horizons, and build their network with other water professionals from around the globe.”

Keynotes from world-leading gamechangers

A particular highlight of the programme will be the line-up of keynote speakers. This is to include Peter Gleick, leading scientist, innovator, and communicator on water and climate issues. Co-founder of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, USA, in 1987 – one of the world’s most innovative, independent, non-governmental research centres, creating and advancing solutions to the world’s most pressing water challenges – Gleick has expert knowledge of the intersection of hydrology, climatology, and policy. His work has redefined water from the realm of engineers to the world of social justice, sustainability, human rights, and integrated thinking.

Keynotes and panel discussions will cover topical themes such as resilience and climate adaptation, water utility digitalisation, emerging concerns such as antimicrobial resistance, and sanitation and regulation.

The excellent keynote speaker line-up is to include Saroj Kumar Jha, Global Director for the World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice, Batsirai Majuru of the WHO’s Water, Sanitation, Hygiene & Health unit, Ong Tze-Ch’in, Chief Executive PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, and Meike van Ginneken, Water Envoy for the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Depth and diversity

The programme spans a diverse range of water-related topics. Key highlights of WWCE providing extra depth will be the agenda-setting Forums, taking a deep dive into the critical themes of groundwater, industrial water, utility leadership, regulation, and the activities of Young Water Professionals.

This year’s Forum programme includes:

  • Utility Leaders Forum: This two-day event for water utility leaders focuses on solutions for water scarcity, climate adaptation, and improving the circular economy through interactive dialogue and case studies.
  • International Water Regulators Forum: An invitation-only meeting of global water regulators to address regulatory challenges and explore interlinkages between regulation, science, policy, and practice.
  • Emerging Water Leaders Forum: An invitation-only platform for young water professionals to connect, share experiences, and gain insights on addressing climate change and water scarcity for a sustainable and resilient water future.
  • Groundwater Forum: Organized by the Danish Water Forum and Canadian Host Country Committee, this forum explores the complexities of groundwater-based water supply through expert discussions and knowledge exchange.
  • Industrial Water Forum: Under the theme of ‘Corporate water strategy: How industry overcomes challenges when investing in water efficiency’, this Forum aims to engage, inspire and share knowledge on the topic of corporate water strategy across industrial and regulatory sectors.

Alongside these Forums, there are also a number of cross-cutting and other sessions. These include: The Technology Roadmap for Net-Zero Urban Wastewater; Water 2050: Charting a Course to the Future of Water – AWWA; and sessions on enhancing urban sanitation, Climate Smart Utilities, and utility-regulator collaboration for efficient and resilient services.

These forums and sessions complement the extensive programme provide by the many technical sessions and workshops, as well as poster presentations, which are assigned to the six core programme themes. These core themes are:

  • Water utility management – paying particular attention to digital applications, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, ambitions for net zero, climate resilience, and asset management.
  • Wastewater treatment and recovery – exploring biological processes, such as activated sludge and biofilm processes, as well as physicochemical and electrochemical processes. Target components discussed will include the classic nutrients, micropollutants, microplastics and PFAS. In addition to examining municipal wastewater treatment, attention will also be paid to industrial wastewater, biosolids management, and water reclamation for non-potable reuse.
  • Drinking water and potable reuse – providing a special focus on emerging contaminants, pathogen detection, and disinfection, as well as leakage management and regulation, covering on-premises water quality and potable water reuse.
  • City-scale planning and operations – considering the challenges and advances in sewer management, stormwater management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the use of decision support tools, nature-based solutions, and dedicated urban design.
  • Communities, communications and partnerships – focusing on capacity building, strengthening collaborations, transferring good practices, and enabling digital transformation.
  • Water resources and large-scale management – covering groundwater, surface water and sea water, and giving focus not only to the monitoring and protection of water quality and quantity, but also the drive to meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Access practical solutions

WWCE will once again feature a dedicated global Exhibition. This provides an outstanding opportunity to access latest solutions from around the world and to make contacts to build partnerships and collaborations.

This year’s Exhibition will feature country pavilions showcasing offerings from locations such as Netherlands, Denmark, China, Japan, Malaysia, India, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and possibly more, as well as from Canada and the US. There will also be an Innovation Pavilion, led by Isle Utilities.

Toronto will of course also offer opportunities to connect with our sponsors, especially the Principal sponsors Xylem and Grundfos and Platinum sponsor, the City of Toronto.

Latest details of Exhibitors and Sponsors are available on the event website.

Practical solutions will be very much on display in the Business Forum programme. This will provide a series of sessions in open theatres in the Exhibition area, where sponsors and exhibitors present their innovations and projects that contribute to shaping our water future.

Practical solutions will also be celebrated in the 2024 edition of IWA’s Project Innovation Awards. The awards recognise and promote excellence and innovation in water management, research and technology. Outstanding entries from around the world have been judged and the winners will be revealed and celebrated at the IWA PIA Gala Event taking place on the evening of Tuesday 13 August.

Also with a practical focus, there will once again be an IWA Operations Challenge, held in the Exhibition area at the Congress venue. The IWA Operations Challenge allows utilities to showcase the diverse skills and competencies of their operations and maintenance personnel, testing the practical skills of the utility teams. Teams of four members will compete in four events spanning maintenance, laboratory skills, collection systems, and process simulation. The local host for the Operations Challenge is the Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO).

City of multi-cultural wealth

If all of the above were not enough, the venue itself has much to offer visitors. Toronto is a vibrant, multi-cultural city, as William Fernandes, director of water treatment and supply with the City of Toronto explains.

“Toronto is famously known as the world in one city,” he says. “So, for a world congress, it makes sense to bring the world of water and wastewater to a city as diverse as Toronto.”

It is estimated that people from around 150 different countries live in Toronto, giving the city a rich and diverse culture. WWCE 2024 will provide a fantastic opportunity for people to see the great things that are happening in the world of water, whilst experiencing the many tourist opportunities Toronto – and more widely Canada – have to offer.

“We want to showcase all the good stuff that we are doing in water and wastewater, and also showcase what tourism we have to offer,” says Fernandes.

“Toronto is a rapidly growing city and so we have faced the challenges that other cities around the world are experiencing,” he says.

Following water and wastewater challenges in the 1990s, Toronto developed a water masterplan and is now in the process of wet weather master planning to reduce the amount of storm sewer overflows going to the city’s stunning lake and waterfront.

“All this is helping the city become greener and more beautiful,” says Fernandes.

“Visitors can expect to find a city that fulfils all of their expectations. I can guarantee it will provide more than people expect – in terms of culture, in terms of food, in terms of the conference, and in terms of the technical tour programme. These will cover everything from energy recovery to green streets – all of the kinds of progressive things that we are doing in the city. There is something for everyone.

“The location of the conference centre is right downtown. You will find entertainment all around you. You can walk to the aquarium, you can walk to the SkyDome, there is all kinds of amazing food around. I haven’t seen too many places that have so much going on in such a small space.”

A global opportunity

With the eyes of the water world turning this August to Canada, WWCE 2024 provides the perfect opportunity to draw on the experiences of global leaders and innovators in the sector, says Peter Vanrolleghem, Congress President and Canada Research Chair in water quality modelling at Université Laval, Canada.

“Congress is a really effective way to increase your knowledge because you can pick up so many different things. It’s a place where you can meet friends and captains of industry. Strategically, it’s a very important event that brings together a large group of researchers that you can talk to in person.”

“Having the world come here will enable people to talk about their experiences and share and spread the word about development across the globe, creating new links and networking opportunities,” he says.

More information

To secure your place at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition 2024, register at:

Free Exhibition-only visitor registration is open at: