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Next Generation Water Action makes waves ahead of the IWA World Water Congress

Water challenges take generations to solve. While we have a lot of good water solutions available today, the solutions of tomorrow will be better. In this spirit, the next generation of water professionals showcased their innovations ahead of the official congress at the Next Generation Water Action Tech Bazar & Reception in Copenhagen.
9 September 2022

The IWA World Water Congress will commence in Copenhagen on Monday 12 September, gathering leading water professionals for a global event covering the entire water cycle. In an almost symbolic fashion, however, the next generation of water professionals have already convened ahead of the congress to kick-start the conversation about water action and solutions for a sustainable future.

On Thursday 8 September, a delegation of young international students, academics and entrepreneurs from Mexico, Kenya, India, Korea and Denmark took centre stage at the Next Generation Water Action Tech Bazar & Reception. The event was held in their honour to discuss and celebrate the innovative water solutions they have developed as part of the Next Generation Water Action (NGWA) initiative.  From using algae to treat wastewater, to performing pipeline leak detection from space, to revitalizing the water in a New York neighbourhood with ancient Aztec agricultural techniques, these solutions are as diverse as they are impressive.

Helmed by DTU Skylab, Next Generation is a yearly initiative that brings youth representation to high-level international events by giving young talents support, mentorship, and a relevant stage to showcase and debate their bold ideas with global decision-makers. Partnering with the International Water Association (IWA), this year’s delegation represented 14 talented teams with the eager to spur water action. All competed to win the opportunity to showcase their water innovations and bring their perspectives into the sessions at the upcoming congress.

The reception marked the full-scale return of the Next Generation initiative after two pandemic ridden years. For the organisers, getting to physically welcome the young delegates on Danish soil is significant for several reasons:

“Hosting The Next Generation in Denmark is significant because the way we host conversations about action is unique. It is open, collaborative and focuses on shortening the distance between good ideas and scaling. That is a type of space, which is hard to create virtually. The initiative very much revolves around the physical representation of the next generation at high-level gatherings. Meeting face to face with potential partners, stakeholders and decision-makers challenges and pushes the participants,”  says Marie Louise Pollmann-Larsen, Project Manager at DTU Skylab.

As the Danish national platform for P4G Partnerships, State of Green is proud to be a partner of the NGWA initiative and take part in fostering impactful green partnerships across generations:

” Promoting youth perspectives enrich many of the partnerships that are already underway. On top, bringing together talent from all over the world to work on real, scalable solutions is key to nurturing sustainable business in all corners of the world. To succeed in this momentous task, the next generation must be involved,” says Iver Høj Nielsen, Head of P4G Denmark.

NGWA at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition

The NGWA delegation will present at several stands in the exhibition hall and participate in sessions at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition. Find out where you can meet them and experience their innovative solutions.

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Creating real opportunities for young talent

Throughout the evening, the room was filled with lively conversation on how partnerships and action across generations and sectors can accelerate water for smart liveable cities. The excitement was palpable, especially among the evening’s guests of honour. For several talents, participating in the initiative has already yielded important opportunities even before they came to Copenhagen. Akanksha Agarwal, a challenge winner from India, explained:

“When you are a young start-up, no one listens. It is hard to get your foot in the door. Even if your technology speaks for itself, the first hello is difficult. Being able to say that we are NGWA winners has already helped us to connect with potential partners back home and scale our solution in a very real way.”

Next week, the young talents hope to make their mark at the congress and gain valuable connections and experiences. Combatting the notion of “youth washing”, this is exactly what the NGWA initiative can provide them:

“We have not invited them here just because they are young, but because their concerns for the future are the ones that will shape the water action to come. By bringing them to the congress we can catalyse it. They know what issues they want to solve, and by connecting them with established water professionals, they can be helped with directions on where and how to take their solutions further,” says Marie Louise Pollmann-Larsen

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