Sat | Jul 20, 2019

Waste and water: focus of regional conference

Published:Sunday | July 7, 2019 | 12:30 AMChristopher Serju - Gleaner Writer
A wastewater treatment system

‘Securing the Caribbean’s Future: Financing the Water and Waste Sectors’ is the theme for this year’s Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) conference and exhibition to be held in the twin island state of St Kitts and Nevis, from October 14-18.

The most substantial components of the Caribbean’s future are hinged on the development of the water and waste sectors. Water is a core mechanism pushing economic development in agriculture, tourism, energy, health and manufacturing. Socio-economic progress is reliant on healthy human capital. Women, children and the elderly are affected disproportionately by lack of access to clean water, and basic sanitation, and are at higher risk of exposure to water- and sanitation-related diseases.

Improved water and sanitation practices initiate substantial health gains and economic benefits for citizens. Financing is one of the most unparalleled challenges facing the water and waste sector. Pursuing capital improvement projects, building climate resilience, employing modern technology and innovations, improving sector capacity and competencies, engaging in research and development, and performing comprehensive stakeholder engagement all require significant investments

The exhibition is a significant aspect of this event each year, thanks to the numerous sponsors and exhibitors committing their support. On average, 60 exhibitors participate by showcasing their products and services in the water and waste sectors and to interact with utility companies and other participants. It is an excellent space for networking, bringing together more than 400 participants from the Caribbean, Latin America, North America, and Europe.

This event serves as an opportunity for participants to exchange information and experiences to network and to be exposed to cutting-edge technology, products and services in a very dynamic event.

HIGHLIGHTS OF CONFERENCE

- The 15th High Level Forum of Caribbean Ministers with responsibility for Water will convene during the conference and will be attended by ministers with responsibility for water, water utility companies, regional and international donors, and development partners.

- The Regional Strategic Action Plan for Governance and Building Climate Resilience in the Water Sector in the Caribbean will take the spotlight, as decision-makers deliberate on its implementation and inclusion at the country level in the national planning framework.

- The Third High Level Forum of Caribbean Ministers with responsibility for Waste Management is scheduled to take place in St Kitts and Nevis from October 16-17.

This forum will bring together ministers responsible for waste management, solid waste companies, regional entities and experts and development partners. The High Level Forum for Waste is in its infant stages and the CWWA remains committed to developing the waste agenda, adding value to waste management and securing public health. This forum is expected to bear fruit, as decision-makers ponder on initiatives to benefit the sanitation sector.

- In 2019, the CWWA will present several technical seminars and panel discussions, which will focus on topics aligned to the conference theme. The topics include new technology in data digitisation, management of non-revenue water and innovative financing and the circular economy. It is anticipated that these sessions will provide the forum for thought-provoking and relevant discussions and provide much-needed insight into these issues.

- The headline event for these sessions, the Conference Plenary, will be hosted on Tuesday, October 15, and the technical sessions feature work, studies and research aligned to the conference thematic areas, from academics and practitioners in the sector, both within the region and internationally. The technical sessions create the opportunity to share ideas, lessons learnt and knowledge gained.

The following are the conference thematic areas for 2019:

- Financing and Partnership: the way forward

- Governance and Leadership for the future.

- Prospects for the future of Waste Management and the Circular Economy.

- Water Resources Management beyond 2020.

- Leaving no one behind: Using Water and Waste Sector to secure Caribbean people.

- Beyond Climate Adaptation: Resilience for the next generation.

- The relationship between water, waste and other sectors.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com