2017 Water and Development Congress & Exhibition

The IWA Water Development Congress & Exhibition 2017 took place
in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Congress in Numbers






In November 2017, Argentina hosted the International Water Association’s Water and Development Congress & Exhibition, one of the most important events globally in the field of water and sanitation. In addition to the excellent news for Argentina, as this event represents an opportunity to showcase the country’s new policies aimed at gaining efficiency in the management of public services and the commitment to the improvement of water and sanitation services, this Conference is also a great opportunity for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

Latin America and the Caribbean have made good, but insufficient, progress in terms of access to water and sanitation over the last two decades, measured by the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Today, more than 110 million people in the region lack of adequate sanitation solutions and more than 30 million lack of access to safe water. In factual terms, the situation of water and sanitation services in LAC is more critical than what MDGs achievements showed. The goals for the new and ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) impose a great challenge on governments, water and sanitation utilities and the community.

Data from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) show that to achieve universal coverage in water and sanitation, meeting quality standards and eliminating inequities associated with SDGs will require not only a large investment effort (over US $ 120 billion), but a reengineering in public policy, capacity building of service providers, promotion and development of innovative asset design, construction and operation mechanisms, and private sector investment and management.

The Water and Development Congress is an unique opportunity for the leaders of our region, service providers, academia, trade unions, industry, NGOs and the community in general to be introduced to the latest innovations and developments in terms of public policies, services management tools and mechanisms, benchmarking techniques, construction and operation technologies, energy efficiency, the water food energy nexus, and new approaches to citizen engagement and participation to meet the sector challenges. The IDB welcome and supports both the Argentine Government and the IWA to the region, invites the water and sanitation representatives to actively participate in this event. Sharing experiences and lessons learned from other regions will be a great contribution towards the achievement of the SDGs in LAC.

Water distribution and availability is quite good in Argentina’s urban areas. However, rural communities lag far behind that of less developed nations. This problem is made worse by one of the highest levels of per capita usage in the world at around 500 L/day. Large rivers and aquifers represent the main source of drinking water supplies and they are facing serious water pollution problems from industrial effluents, urbanization, and harmful agriculture practices. Water is now recognized as a key enabler and connector for the critical issues of our time: security, sustainability and resilience. And so Buenos Aires also emerges as a forward looking city that embraces innovation and seeks to establish itself as a ‘smart city’.

En Español

En el mes de noviembre de 2017 Argentina servirá de sede del Congreso de Desarrollo y Agua de la IWA, uno de los eventos más importantes a nivel global en materia de agua y saneamiento. Además de las excelentes noticias que para Argentina representa esta oportunidad para mostrar al mundo el nuevo rumbo de su política aperturista, de búsqueda de eficiencia en la gestión de los servicios públicos y de compromiso categórico con el mejoramiento de los servicios de agua y saneamiento, este Congreso es también una gran oportunidad para Latinoamérica y el Caribe (LAC).

Si bien la región fue una de las que más avanzó en el cumplimiento de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM) para agua segura, su desempeño en términos de saneamiento mejorado no fue satisfactorio. Hoy, más 110 millones de habitantes de la región carecen de adecuadas soluciones de saneamiento y más de 30 millones de acceso a agua segura. En realidad, la situación de los servicios de agua y saneamiento en LAC es más crítica que lo que muestran los logros en materia de los ODM. Las metas de los nuevos y ambiciosos Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS), imponen un reto muy grande a los gobiernos, a las empresas de servicios de agua y saneamiento y a la comunidad en general.

Estimaciones del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) indican que para alcanzar la cobertura universal en agua y saneamiento, cumplir los estándares de calidad y eliminar las inequidades asociadas a las metas de los ODS requerirá no solo un gran esfuerzo en materia de inversiones (que supera los US$ 120 billones de dólares), sino que requerirá toda una reingeniería en materia de políticas públicas, fortalecimiento de las capacidades de los prestadores de los servicios, promoción y desarrollo de mecanismos innovadores de diseño, construcción y operación de activos, y atracción del sector privado a la gestión e inversión de los mismos.

El Congreso de Agua y Desarrollo es una oportunidad inmejorable para que los gobernantes de nuestra región, los entres prestadores de los servicios, la academia, los gremios, la industria, las ONGs y la comunidad en general, se expongan a las últimas innovaciones y desarrollos en materia de políticas públicas, instrumentos y mecanismos de gestión de los servicios, benchmarking, tecnologías de construcción y operación, eficiencia energética, el Nexo Agua-Electricidad-Alimentación, y de nuevos enfoques de participación ciudadana para hacer frente a los retos de la región. El BID celebra y apoya tanto al Gobierno Argentino como a la IWA por este voto para con la región, invita a los representantes del sector de agua y saneamiento a que participen activa y presencialmente en este importante evento, y estamos seguros que la exposición frente a los pares de otros continentes será de gran aporte y utilidad para el logro de los ODS.

Programme 2017

Keynote Speakers

Pablo Bereciartua

Argentina’s Under Secretary for Water Resources

Henk Ovink

Special Envoy on Water, Netherlands

Eleanor Allen

CEO, Water for People

Guangzhe Chen

Senior Director, Water Global Practice, World Bank Group

Jeffrey Sachs

Columbia University, USA

Dhesigen Naidoo

CEO, Water Research Commission, South Africa

Benedito Braga

President of the World Water Council

Programme committee

The IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition 2017 was a unique event focused on water solutions for developing countries and emerging economies. It brought together internationally renowned leaders in the sector to share knowledge and practical experiences; and to build new partnerships that accelerate change that delivers a sustainable water future.

The IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition 2017 took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and covered 5 programme themes: Efficient Utilities as Drivers for Sustainable Development; Sustainable Operation and Maintenance of Water and Sanitation Systems; Integrating Water in City Planning and Design; Connecting Basins and the Cities that Depend on them; and Water Policies, Regulations and Multi-stakeholder Collaboration.

Efficient Utilities as Drivers of Sustainable Development

Water centered Cities of the Future

Resilience and sustainability are central to the water sensitive urban infrastructure of the future. Case studies and discussions highlight the pros and cons of both centralised and decentralised urban water systems. Critical views are presented on the effectiveness of adapting to climate change and creating urban water resilience through urban storage and drainage, storm water management and rainwater harvesting.
Workshops and technical sessions provide great opportunities to network with specialists focused on the transition of urban systems. The latest modelling and case studies on moving towards sustainability provide the basis for reflecting on how urban water systems can meet new imperatives through to 2050. Can integration of the design of water systems with the long-term planning and development of urban areas be achieved?

Leading Utilities

New management models for utilities, new approaches to asset management and innovative contracting practices are transforming water service delivery. They form a basis for more effective, efficient and sustainable services. Workshops and technical sessions focus on the latest advances in utility performance assessment and benchmarking based on learning from best practices.

Outcomes from new assessments of the capacity gap in
the water sector of emerging economies are presented. These facilitate the strategic planning of training and professional learning. At the utility level this translates into better workforce planning and improving the quality of skilled staff. Utility managers from around the world will exchange ideas and share experiences to improve utility management in practice.

Industries in Transition

Industries from all sectors now see eco-efficiency, water and materials recycling as essential to their success. Leading industrial water management practices are minimising environmental impacts by achieving zero waste discharge. Workshops and technical sessions provide examples from agriculture, refineries, automotive manufacturing, mining, food and beverages, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Sustainable Operations & Maintenance of Water and Sanitation Systems

Resource resilience

Building resilience into resource management strategies
requires institutional and technological development. New strategic frameworks are being introduced, enabling successful management of resources across political boundaries: connecting watersheds and urban centers. These new approaches focus on managing the current state of the resource base, but also support the restoration of damaged or over-exploited ecosystems.

A number of resource management technologies are under development. Latest research findings of the underlying physical, chemical and ecological processes are presented. These findings have the potential to substantiate new risk-based assessment approaches for sustainable resource management. A variety of new methods, applied to different ecosystems from coastal zones, wetlands and groundwater, to lakes and reservoirs, are presented.

Alternative Resources

Competing water demands and water scarcity are driving the development of alternative water resources, such as water efficiency gains through reducing leakage or re-using water for potable and non-potable use. A series of workshops highlight where and how new technologies are shaping the future of alternative water resource development. Special attention is given to how the interactions between regulation and stakeholders significantly impacts on the development of these resources.

Technical presentations, that underpin the development
of alternative water resources, highlight the latest findings of advanced membrane technologies including ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis.

Resource and Energy Recovery

Water and wastewater are valuable sources of nutrients, materials and energy. The latest developments in capturing nitrogen and phosphorus are featured in technical presentations and a series of posters. These focus on solutions in both the municipal and industrial sectors. Full-scale programmes that meet environmental discharge standards and recover nutrients effectively are highlighted.

Technologies are now being developed that enable energy to be captured from wastewater. Biogas production through co-digestion and co-generation schemes, microbial electrolysis, fuel cells and pressure-retarded osmosis are amongst the technologies that could dramatically change the energy
profile of our industry. A number of technical sessions and workshops highlight how the focus on energy is combined with real progress in understanding and tackling the production of greenhouse gases in the water cycle. This is making a significant contribution to the mitigation of climate change.

Integrating Cities and Water

Good Governance

Effective institutions and regulation are essential to enable
the reliable and sustainable management of water services
and water resources. Through technical presentations and discussions we examine how regulation is impacting water and wastewater services and water reuse. Other sessions analyse the effectiveness of different national and transboundary water- sharing governance arrangements. You can examine stakeholder engagement, customer relations and whether the water sector can learn from other sectors.

Sustainable Finance

Sound finances are critical for the water sector. Taxes, tariffs
and transfers together form the basic ingredients for sustainable financing. In reality, utility managers, regulators and other practitioners must address a number of (competing) objectives when establishing tariff structures and pricing levels. What tariffs are most appropriate in terms of sustainability, affordability and equitability? A range of speakers and panelists review the use of different sources of finance to cover capital and operational costs in different settings.

Smart Water

The continuing rapid development of Smart Water is driving radical change in the water sector. The impacts of implementing new algorithms, monitoring technologies and decision support systems on service delivery and resource management effectiveness are examined. Finally, the potential of “big data” and analytics for transforming the water sector and overcoming critical challenges in water management are reviewed.

Connecting Basins and the Cities that Depend on Them

Water Safety and Human Health

Safety is at the heart of water supply services. A number of sessions demonstrate that Water Safety Plans are increasingly widespread. More and more the conversation focuses on the assessment of effective implementation of these plans and on the development of Sanitation Safety Plans.

The safety of water supplies based on traditional disinfection has encountered several problems, such as disinfectant by- products. Bromates, chlorates and nitrosoamines are now being assessed far more accurately, with potential health impacts better understood and new techniques for their removal advanced.

Monitoring and Managing Water Quality

Developing an approach to establish ‘water cascades’ for different purposes is dependent on identifying the correct water quality for the specific water use. A series of sessions will explore differentiated standards for uses such as irrigation and cooling, which can be done with non-potable water. Technical sessions demonstrate that improved detection and better assessments can deliver a “fit for purpose” approach to water quality management.

Leading specialists elaborate on how new molecular- biological tools are expanding our knowledge about environmental conditions and tracing pollution sources, leading to improved resource management. Learn how powerful analytical techniques are enabling the detection of pharmaceuticals and priority pollutants throughout the water cycle, including in distribution systems.

Water Policies, Regulations and Multi-Stakeholder Collaborations

Wastewater and Bio-solids

Research and practice on the safe and sustainable management of wastewater and derived sludge (bio-solids) continues to develop. Technical sessions highlight latest findings in optimising wastewater treatment processes and the next generation of technologies. A special focus is given to Aerobic Granular Sludge, which has advanced rapidly and is set to become the new standard for aerobic treatment of industrial and municipal wastewater. One workshop will stimulate a closer cooperation of the leading practical and academic fields, and develop a collaborative research roadmap.

Nutrient Removal, Membranes and Desalination

The latest findings of nutrient removal in large-scale wastewater plants are presented. The effectiveness of a range of biological phosphorus and nutrient removal processes, including Anammox, are examined with experiences from both temperate and warm climates.

Membranes have transformed the water and wastewater sector in recent years. A series of technical sessions provide deeper insight into past and future membrane experiences, including membrane bioreactors. In addition, speakers elaborate on the future of desalination and the feasibility of biological desalination.

Wolfgang Rauch, Austria

Xiaochang Wang, China

Shaun Cox, Australia

Heidi Snyman, South Africa

Gertjan Zwolsman, Netherlands

Jorg E. Drewes, Germany

Hiroaki Furumai, Japan

Trevor Bishop, UK

Eveline Volcke, Belgium

Alejandro Iza, Argentina

Shane Snyder, USA

Shafick Adams, South Africa

Maria Benoliel, Portugal

Joan Rose, USA

Jurg Keller, Australia

Seungkwan, Hong Korea

Mark van Loosdrecht, Netherlands

John Batten, USA

Reynald Bonnard, France

“Developing and emerging economies will face some of the biggest and most disruptive water challenges over coming decades, but they also represent some of the biggest opportunities to deliver a sustainable, water-wise future.”

Diane d’Arras, President, International Water Association

Leadership Forums

The Congress includes a number of important Forums that connect you to science and industry leaders. This is an opportunity to get an in-depth understanding of current trends, latest research, guiding strategies and leading practice.

4th International Water Regulators Forum

The Forum offers a platform to bring together leaders of regulatory authorities with economic, quality of service, public health and environmental responsibilities related to water, wastewater and sanitation services.

Wastewater Reuse Forum

The place to discuss innovative solutions on wastewater management and reuse for engagement, planning and investment.

Water Scarcity and Drought Forum

Addressing drought requires global leadership. The Forum deliberates on tackling water scarcity and drought management focusing on policy and institutional reforms, technological solutions, process oriented efforts, and public and private investments.

Emerging Water Leaders Forum

The Forum offers a platform to bring together leaders of regulatory authorities with economic, quality of service, public health and environmental responsibilities related to water, wastewater and sanitation services.

Basin Action Agenda Forum

The Basin Action Agenda Forum convenes decision makers and key stakeholders from some of the major river basins in the world, cities, industries and water and sanitation services.

Africa Forum

This forum looks at Africa’s response to climate change in as far as drought and water scarcity has affected the water sector and how some countries have managed the challenge.

The Congress convened more than 3000 participants from 82 countries to share knowledge and practical experiences; and to build new partnerships that accelerate change to deliver a sustinable water future.

Technical Tours

Connecting you to leading practice and large-scale applications in some of Buenos Aires renowned water facilities

Exhibitors, Partners and Sponsors

A unique strength of the IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition is the seamless integration of the conference’s leading-edge science and technology focus, with world-renowned water companies, utilities, governments, NGO’s, research institutes an civil society organizations participating in the exhibition.

Networking Events

The IWA Water and Development Congress and Exhibition is a unique opportunity to network with the world’s best water professionals with a focus on development solutions. 

IWA Development Awards

IWA is committed to recognising the special contributions and achievements of its members and water sector professionals, and the invaluable contribution they make to key innovations in water science and management.

2017 Winners

IWA Development Award: Research

This award recognizes an outstanding contribution to science which has led to demonstrable impact in low and middle income countries.

Barbara Evans’ research has played a key role in developing effective strategies for securing safe access to water and sanitation, with a sustained attention to poor urban and rural communities. She has been awarded the IWA Water and Development Award for Research for increasing our understanding on community-wide approaches to tackle urban and rural water and sanitation challenges.

IWA Development Award: Practice

This award recognizes an outstanding contribution to best practice in water management which has led to demonstrable impact in low and middle income countries.

Marco Antonio Cevallos has shown how management vision can lead water utilities in emerging economies to deliver vastly improved services, even to the poorest in society. He is awarded the IWA Water and Development Award for Practice for instigating a new service paradigm that places greater emphasis on community engagement, resource stewardship, and investment decisions that consider the social, economic and environmental costs.



Browse through the photography coverage of the event!


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