I joined EJWP 2019 by contacting Naomi, after checking for water-related training and education programs at the European and global levels. I am interested in continuous education and learning through new networks. Even though I was somewhat connected in my field in Germany, I knew that I was lacking knowledge about the European scene.
In the meantime, I’ve connected my EJWP activities within my organization in Frankfurt, DECHEMA e.V. (Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology). Now I am initiating the last EJWP2 project to work on as a group and with my organization, so that DECHEMA is actively involved in EJWP. It’s good to be connected in certain networks for information gathering and sharing on these types of multistakeholder projects. Our potential focus is to connect with technically associated specialist groups, and we will most likely integrate a project on industrial water and the opportunities with digital technologies.
In EJWP, I’ve learned various aspects of managing projects and teams on the same levels in all sense; it’s vital to communicate content in a focused way that is also respectful. A training with Jennifer was helpful in stepping out of our own self perspectives for us to view ourselves as others see us. I now handle situations easier and am less stressed about achieving the expected outcome. In this sense, I also know that even though leading projects, you have to find a balance between control and letting go; it can’t ALL be on your shoulders alone.
In EJWP we interact with a range of stakeholders throughout various projects, and I’ve also seen huge developments on this in our group. An outstanding project was in the task of unveiling the real value of water and communicate to others: in what channels, what psychological triggers and so on. In this project, our team had a great interaction with Gonzalo Delacámara of IMDEA Agua as project owner. I’m impressed with his work, as well as EJWP Ambassador Chrysi Laspidou, who comes across as very honest and personal in her presentations. I’ve taken away some solid impressions on professionalism in the sector through these interactions.
Water Europe is an important connection for DECHEMA. Many Working Groups there are thematic overlaps with our mostly chemical-related companies. It’s funny that I have noticed that the sizes of professional water networks are becoming more evident, like my group leader Thomas Track working with Gonzalo. If you see that your contacts know each other, then you better see how the sector circles interact. Different Water Europe working groups are comprised of companies, institutes and organizations. Additionally, there are national, European or international networks. In Germany, we have different associations like for wastewater (DWA), drinking water (DVGW) etc. My organization is especially focused on industrial production. On the national level, these associations are pulled together by their members in working groups, and they publish papers on professional aspects like best practices at various levels, like machinery on water plants and more.
One of my key topics is digitalization of the water sector. I see great opportunities by the movements on Open Source and Open Data. They are key elements for opportunities, development and innovation. Involving stakeholders in new developments builds knowledge and trust by ensuring transparency. Releasing of relevant data could leverage and connect existing processes by using external capacities (swarm intelligence).
More to this, we all should be aware about the value of water and why we should value it. We will have a more uneven distribution of drinking water worldwide. Social impacts due to water related stress will become worse. We should try to implement water cycles on a small scale to achieve greater local resilience and safely store the water locally. Going from centralized to decentralized water facilities. It’s already clear that we will have more heavy rainfalls in some places and increased droughts in others, while being more difficult to forecast. Humans, nations, and economics will need to adapt to this uncertain reality.
I think that in an ideal world there is no need for water treatment. But to ensure prosperity and equality, we need to work on what we have and this is a continuous development. Every interest group should be involved to ensure their participation and input.