Water Sensitive Cities Australia at the IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition

September 26, 2022
The IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition took place in Copenhagen from 1115 September 2022. In-person for the first time in 4 years, the focus this year was on the digital economy, smart and liveable cities, entrepreneurship and diffusion of innovation, climate change adaptation, community and customer engagement, and sustainability.

Professor Tony Wong (Chair of the Water Sensitive Cities Australia Think Tank) attended on our behalf. A previous winner of the prestigious Global Water Award, Tony was a keynote speaker at the High-Level Summit on Partnerships for Smart Liveable Cities: Water as a Key to Action on Climate and the SDGs.

He explored the emerging multi-faceted dimensions of integrated urban water management, which is being adopted to varying degrees around world. The increasing technical emphasis on, and investment in, multi-functional infrastructure needs new governance arrangements. Conventional practices involve multiple departments and agencies and multiple levels of government providing services (e.g. water supply, safe sanitation, storm drainage, flood protection and mitigation, environmental protection of waterways). Tony discussed ways to encourage agencies and governments to collaborate on infrastructure planning, co-design and co-investment. Working together, stakeholders can identify accountability and responsibility in water infrastructure operation and maintenance, and agree on the hierarchy or priority of management objectives for this multi-functional infrastructure.

Perths Water Sensitive Transition Network receives Bronze Project Innovation Award

Tony also accepted a Bronze Project Innovation Award for Perths Water Sensitive Transition Network (WSTN) in the Governance, Institutions and Social Enterprise category. These awards celebrate social innovation, social enterprise and social entrepreneurship and their contribution to sustainable water management. In addition, they recognise innovations in governance and institutional transitions and the role this plays in supporting the circular and digital water economies.

An artist impression of the Western Parkland City centred around South Creek Wianamatta, where integrated planning delivers a city which reimagines liveability

Out of 203 entries from 52 countries, our entry demonstrated how the WSTN an informal network of cross-organisational and cross-sectoral champions with a shared vision can drive on-ground change. Established in 2015, the WSTN evolved from a research project led by the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities to develop a shared vision for Greater Perths water sensitive future. While the network is self-organising and informal, it is endorsed by key government agencies and organisations in Perth.

The group comprises strategic thinkers across the water, planning, development and environment sectors from state government, local government, NGOs, industry, and academia. Individually and collectively, it has the ability (be it knowledge, networks, authority, legitimacy) to influence decision making in relation to urban water management to progress a water sensitive Perth.

It has achieved much:

  • It was a key stakeholder in the development of the Waterwise Perth Action Plan, a Cabinet-endorsed commitment to Perth becoming a waterwise (or water sensitive) city.
  • It has developed an implementation plan that identify priority actions for Perths transition to a water sensitive city.
  • WSTN members have been instrumental in developing the relationships and building the trust necessary to deliver a range of other projects, such as the Wharf Street Basin Next Generation Community Park and the Subiaco Strategic Resource Precinct.
  • Recognising the research gap on Indigenous water values, the network members lobbied for financial support from their respective organisations, raising sufficient funds to begin the Nyoongar water values project.