In any discipline it is important to have a means of knowledge exchange. No more so than in water where there are two types of interdisciplinary knowledge at play, thoroughly complicating the global understanding of water. These two types of knowledge are location specific where geographical and cultural knowledge differ across regions and technical knowledge which varies across the many disciplines that work with water.
There are many such networks that work on water issues such as the World Water Council (WWC) and International Water Association (IWA). These organizations work to bring experts together for discussion resulting in a global diffusion of current knowledge. These networks have different means of carrying out their missions while disseminating a lot of interesting information.
World Water Council
The World Water Council is an expert network which first and foremost provides a platform for debate on water so as to develop a unified view of how to solve water issues. The Council has a goal of supporting the UN MDGs that are related to water. It enables a forum for discussion with world leaders and ministers participating in the dialogue. The Council does this through a number of programs, the triennial World Water Forum, and publications.
There are many programs that the Council has supported Water and Green Growth, Financing Water for All, Right to Water, Water Monitoring Alliance, Local Authorities, and Water and Climate. The outcome of these programs will be interesting to see. The Water and Green Growth project is less than a year old and is a joint initiative between the WWC and the Korean Government. The goal of this project is to deliver an understanding of how water plays into the concept of environmentally friendly economic growth.
The World Water Forum gathers every three years and is the largest international water event. Recently the 6th World Water Forum, held in Marseille, was attended by 35,000 participants from around the globe. For a comprehensive recap of the outcomes of this meeting see the Forum Synthesis. This event is significant in the global water landscape because it is a chance for water professionals of all disciplines and levels to interact and learn from each other.
The WWC has a number of publications on its website that fit within its thematic scope. In terms of academic publications the WWC oversees the journal Water Policy which is limited to subscriptions which many universities have access to. This is one of the leading journals on water and is helping the international community utilize scientific knowledge to make informed decisions. It is published through the publishing wing of the IWA.
International Water Association
The IWA is a network is another leading group of water experts. It bills itself as “a global reference point for water professionals, spanning the continuum between research and practice and covering all facets of the water cycle.” This network brings together a wide range of competencies to work on 5 core themes that the IWA focuses on; Cities of the Future, Utilities and Their Assets, Science and application of water treatment and management, Sanitation, Water Quality and Health, and Water, climate and energy.
IWA takes a regional approach and is able to bring experts together For example in Africa it works to increase water and sanitation best practices. Whereas the goal of the IWA’s Danube and Black Sea Region is to generate knowledge exchange through work with national associations. This exchange of knowledge happens at a number of events that occur every 12 days and range in topic and scope to fit the needs of a gathered group.
The IWA is heavily involved in the dissemination of information on water through its publishing wing. It oversees 15 different water journals that cover everything from technology to policy. The catch is that you need to have access to their journals through a university subscription. If you have that, there is a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. They also publish a bi-monthly magazine called Water21 that keeps readers up to date on current water issues. It also hosts the IWA Water Wiki which is one of the best resources to find a wide variety of information. Water Wiki is an open source format for water information like the better known Wikipedia and is worth a look around.
These two networks provide valuable insight into what is going on with water. They are there to bring new ideas to the forefront of debate and disseminate knowledge to those who need it most. There are other networks which I will discuss as this series continues including the Global Water Partnership and various other national and international bodies.