Tackling South Africa’s water challenges will take a lot of hard work, courage, and the ability to think out of the box.

It is for this reason that South Africa’s national funding agency for water research and development, the Water Research Commission, will be hosting a global conference, the Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) Symposium and Water-tech summit at the Birchwood Hotel, Boksburg, from September 16 to 18.

Held every two years, the Symposium aims to find new ideas on issues that affect all water users, like climate change, energy efficiency, sustainability and the protection of drinking water quality and therefore public health.

“These issues are global in nature and transcend both national and continental boundaries,” says Dhesigen Naidoo, CEO of the WRC.

“It is only through collaboration that the water industry will be able to address these challenges. The countries and indeed companies that enjoy high levels of water security around the world have done it on the back of very good science and high levels of innovation. This is what we want to invest in more heavily with the help of our international partners.”

Some of the world’s most reputable and leading research organisations ­– like the Canadian Water Network, the Dutch-based Watercycle Research Institute and the US-based Water Environment Research Foundation, among others – have teamed up to face these challenges head-on, and established the Global Water Research Coalition.

The Symposium lineup

The Symposium will include plenary and keynote presentations on every day, as well as parallel sessions of invited papers on case studies, research, posters and an interactive Watersmart Zone.

The Watersmart Zone will be a dedicated space, designed as a real-life walk-through of different landscapes (rural, urban, industrial, informal settlements and natural), in which some of the country’s most innovative water and sanitation solutions will be demonstrated.

“Delegates will be able to see how these technologies and solutions work and can be implemented in a variety of contexts,” says Dr Inga Jacobs-Mata, Executive Manager Knowledge Dissemination, Marketing and Communications of the WRC.

“It will also be home to the Knowledge Café, an interactive space that will form a fourth parallel session for more informal discussions.”

The Symposium will also be host to a gala dinner and the WRC Awards Ceremony, on 17 September, in which researchers that have had a major impact in their pursuit for excellence in the water science domain will be honoured.


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