Stockholm tackles future resource demands

In addition to debating key global water resource issues, delegates at this year's Symposium will also celebrate the work of the latest recipient of the coveted Water Prize. Sharon Gould previews the event.

The maxim for this year’s Stockholm Water Symposium, which focuses on innovative Approaches to Water Security for the 21st century, could well be ‘Less is more’.

A key theme during the week will be how to square up the not insignificant advances made by industrialised countries to reduce pollution loads in water supplies, with the growing demands of developing countries to source and secure adequate water from diminishing sources.

While this may conjure up images of magicians, rabbits, hats – pulling something out of nothing – the harsh truth is that there is less water available for the world’s burgeoning populations and more will have to be conserved and used again.

In effect this throws investment in wastewater management and treatment, including desalination, to the top of the agenda and a major priority will be how to make these historically less appealing projects more attractive to private investors.

Delegates to the week long Symposium will be urged to discuss how key barriers – institutional as well as mental – can be overcome by increasing water awareness, literacy and stewardship of existing resources through education and training to make water an issue that is everyone’s business.

Making the most of what we’ve got applies to water-rich as well as water-poor countries, and those aspects of human behaviour which prevent us from achieving this will be challenged. These include:

  • Politics and poor education;
  • Bad management and conservation of water supply;
  • Uncritical copying of western models from one climatic zone to another;
  • Assumptions that famine is largely due to distribution problems rather than water-related constraints.

But challenges also throw up opportunities and Symposium workshops will explore innovative water-efficiency practices such as irrigation with non-conventional water, agriculture to minimise plant evaporation, as well as wider issues such as a fully integrated approach to land use, water resources and the socio-economic and ecological demands which impact on every community.

  • For further details contact the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) at or telephone 46 8 522 139 60.

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