The first IWA-IDB Innovation Conference was held in ESPOL, Guayaquil (Ecuador) from 30 September to 03 October 2019. This international platform was an event that is part of the IWA Sustainability in the water sector Specialist Group to discuss advances in the sustainable use of water, cities, industry, and agriculture.
The conference program was divided into three full days of activities (which can be seen in detail in this link: https://www.globalsustainablewater.org/program.html ). The presentations and discussions were carried out in different sections: the innovation track, the cross-cutting track, the city track, the agriculture track, the industry track and the IWA-IDB special sessions (including the dissemination of the WATERMAS project results). Senior and early-career professionals presenting their contributions came from around the world, including Swedish, English, American, Canadian, Belgian, Ecuadorian, Peruvian, Chilean, Brazilian, South-African, Portuguese, Spanish and German institutions, wherein many of them are involved in the project.
The fact of having had participants from the industry, agriculture, policymaking, native people coalitions, business, and financial institutions, besides academics, provided more comprehensive and holistic points of view of water-related issues. Concise but highly impacting messages were conveyed, such as for the exact words of the former tribal President from North Dakota, Dave Archambault II, stating that “Water is a Source of Life, Not a Resource”. The latter is an example of how the scientific paradigms are aligning with the traditional knowledge and concerns for preserving the well-being of all concerned stakeholders.
The interactions among participants of this conference enabled the deliverance of important messages to a wider audience, including local actors and managers. These messages have in turn a great potential to generate new actions or strengthen ongoing efforts. Therefore, the dissemination of the project achievements is fostered by reaching key stakeholders that gain awareness for what is being done and what are the available opportunities to make of the project a truly sustainable effort thanks to the involvement of both personal and institutional contributions.