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Written by Anamaría Núñez, María Augusta Olmedo, Raphaelle Ortiz and Nadia Goncalves
innovation into play in order to find creative solutions to ensure access to and enjoyment of water for the region.
The current water-related challenges generate critical problems that deeply affect communities and ecosystems and force us to think differently and put innovation into practice to ensure access to and enjoyment of water for all.
Innovation, such as these Seeds of Change, was the central theme of the sessions tied to Focus on the Americas, coordinated by the IDB at World Water Week 2023, the most impactful international event in the water and sanitation sector.
World Water Week 2023
Since 2015, the Water and Sanitation Division of the Inter-American Development Bank has coordinated the World Water Week’s Focus on the Americas, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). This space focused on Latin America and the Caribbean has functioned as a global platform to foster innovation, collaboration and dialogue in the field of water and sanitation in the region.
This year, under the theme: “Seeds of Change”, Focus on the Americas sought to highlight revolutionary ideas and initiatives in water and sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean. The program consisted of a dynamic gathering of influential voices and impactful strategies to address the challenges of our ever-changing world.
From August 20 to 24, 2023, the program was accessible through the World Water Week’s website with sessions, seminars and exhibitions exploring innovation in water and sanitation.
Sessions: Shaping the Future of Water and Sanitation
Our sessions were designed to inspire and encourage innovative actions to revolutionize water and sanitation services. We delved into success stories, innovative methodologies, tools and strategies that promote thriving ecosystems and successful platforms.
From the dynamic creation of innovation ecosystems to the assurance of universal services through effective governance and social innovation, the program covered a diversity of topics on areas such as innovative case studies, financing, innovation for equitable and inclusive water and sanitation services, and sector governance.
Talkshow: Exploring Innovation at Focus on the Americas
The talkshow that was presented in the Focus on the Americas program had the participation of Andrés Sánchez, Water Program Specialist at the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Department of Sustainable Development of the Executive Secretariat for Sustainable Development, and Sergio Campos, Water and Sanitation Division chief at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). They presented the innovative work done to overcome the challenges of climate change and work in transboundary basins.
Likewise, tools and mechanisms for impact and sustainability of operations, innovative financing mechanisms for Sustainable Development Goal 6, and successful experiences in the construction of innovation ecosystems for scalable water and sanitation services were shared with participants.
In case you missed the chance to watch it live, you can watch the Talkshow here.
Water, as a dynamic resource, is shared between municipalities, departments, and countries. To address water issues, we must take a more integrated view. In Latin America, 70% of freshwater resources lie in shared basins such as the Amazon, the Pantanal, the Titicaca, the Bermejo and the La Plata Basin. These sources supply 60% of the territories where 40% of the population lives. Interestingly, these border areas are home to communities with low-income people. In addition, this region protects 40% of the world’s biodiversity. To ensure future water security, we cannot take an isolated perspective; rather, we need to take an integral approach to our efforts. Although collaboration poses tough challenges due to a wide variety of realities, regulations and public policies in the region, making coordinated decisions is of the essence. Improving the collection of data and information on water resources between countries, establishing adaptable policy and institutional frameworks, and developing sustainable management projects are all crucial steps in this direction.Sergio Campos, IDB’s Water and Sanitation Division chief
The OAS works closely with institutions such as the IDB on water diplomacy. We strengthen capacities and improve data generation. This year, fulfilling a United Nations meeting commitment, we organized the first course on transboundary basins for diplomatic and technical decision makers in the region. As part of our project, we address several key ecosystems in Latin America, including the La Plata Basin and the greater Caribbean. We are also promoting integration and cooperation, addressing migration and the economy, involving farmers, power generators and temperature regulators. This initiative is a key investment, as global security is multidimensional in this context.Andrés Sánchez, Water Program Specialist, Department of Sustainable Development at the OAS Executive Secretariat for Sustainable Development
Seminars: Unveiling Water Challenges and Innovations
Our seminars were a knowledge-sharing hub where speakers presented diverse perspectives and case studies to offer new insights into water challenges and innovations.
Showcase: Immersive Experiencies in WASH Innovation
The showcases highlighted first-hand the impact of innovative water, sanitation and hygiene programs.
IDB-FEMSA Awards at World Water Week 2023
One aspect worth noting is the presence of the IDB-FEMSA Awards, a recognition that since 2009 celebrates the innovative solutions of participants committed to improving the water and sanitation sector in the region.
About Focus on the Americas 2023
Focus on the Americas is organized by a group of institutions that year after year strive to create an attractive agenda tackling Latin America and the Caribbean’s water-related issues. For more information, visit the complete Focus on the Americas Program agenda.
Raphaelle Ortiz is a research consultant for the Organization of the Americas (OAS). She works on publications, blogs, and other research products. She has a BA in Global Environmental Change and Sustainability from Johns Hopkins University and an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University.