International Water Colloquium Brings Scientists and Practitioners into Dialogue

  • 2020/11/18     Dresden, Germany

    SludgeTec workshop in Guatemala (Image: UNU-FLORES)

    UNU-FLORES partners with the Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) and the University of Bonn to launch the International Water Colloquium on the topic of “Cooperation in Water Management – Tackling a Global Challenge”.

    By Minjeong Choi

    The International Water Colloquium opened with the first session on the “Resource Nexus in Latin America – Sustainable Management of Wastewater and Sludge in Decentralised Areas”. Delivered in a webinar format on 4 November 2020, Dr Serena Caucci (UNU-FLORES) and Dr Jorge Cifuentes (USAC, Guatemala) presented a nexus perspective on wastewater management in the Latin American region based on the SludgeTec project at UNU-FLORES.

    The Colloquium aims to shed light on collaborative efforts to tackle global challenges in water management by showcasing the synergies between international and local organisations. Each session presents a project of a UN institution and its local partner and seeks to provide a platform for dialogue between scientists and practitioners. The lecture series takes place online in November and December 2020 and intends to foster a collaborative network between various institutions across a range of water topics.

    The SludgeTec project aimed to facilitate the co-design of sustainable wastewater treatment and management by international experts and local stakeholders in Latin America. The pilot sites were Los Cebollales Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and Tlaxinacalpan WWTP in Tepeji, State of Hidalgo, Mexico. Based on a Nexus Approach, the project analysed the wastewater management problem in three aspects: (1) a sustainability assessment, (2) a stakeholder analysis, and (3) a wickedness analysis.

    In her presentation, Dr Serena Caucci explained how the challenges in water management in the study areas could significantly benefit from a nexus perspective. She went on to present the work done with local partners and stakeholders. Echoing the recommendations as reported in “Towards Sustainable Wastewater Treatment Systems: Implementing a Nexus Approach in Two Cases in Latin America”, Dr Caucci raised the following in order to solve the local challenges: a) enhance the environmental performance of treatment plants; b) improve data collection, storage, and sharing; c) strengthen social networks; d) further management and governance strategies.

    “One-third of the world’s population is affected by poor management of water resources. If SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation) is not tackled, other Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved. Multinational and multidisciplinary teams with diverse experiences worldwide are valuable for cooperation in water management.”

    – Dr Jorge Cifuentes

    SludgeTec project partner Dr Jorge Cifuentes addressed the local perspective of the cooperation with UNU-FLORES. He asserted that to find solutions, building relationships with everyone involved and maintaining effective communication with non-academic stakeholders was critical to the success of this project.

    Each session of the International Water Colloquium is held in the form of a 90-min online webinar, starting with a 60-min lecture/dialogue between the researchers and partners, followed by a 30-min discussion round with the audience.

    Watch the recorded webinar.