It was a packed week for EJWP2 participants in Belgium, as they dived into masterclasses, project workshops, training sessions with peer coaching, and toured local points of water interest and production. EJWP partner organization De Watergroep hosted this EJWP2 training week in Leuven, from 19 – 23 September, highlighting aspects including needed collaboration on the SDGs and points of engagement in digital & hybrid water models.
“The SDGs are in our DNA as a company. Water equals life, sanitation equals dignity, and all SDGs have a link to water,” said Hans Goossens, CEO of De Watergroep and President of Water Europe, in opening the Training Week with a masterclass at the company headquarters.
Digital Water was the next focus with a masterclass by Nele Philips, Program Manager of the Research and Development (R&D) team at De Watergroep, and then on Hybrid Water Models with Louise Vanysacker, R&D Manager at De Watergroep. In the afternoon, participants held a project workshop and then toured the Stella Artois brewery to see first-hand how the production of beer is made of up more than 90% water.
Topics of conflict management and dealing with complexity took center stage in development training in sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday with EJWP trainer Jennifer Cronick. These soft skills development sessions support participants in going well beyond their technical expertise to successfully address multifaceted challenges in working through sector issues beyond their own organizations. “In EJWP, I’ve learned various aspects of managing projects and teams. 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,” said Andres Lucht Uribe, EJWP2 participant from Germany, about development training sessions throughout the program.
A second excursion during the week went from “Holy water to Drinking Water” with an interactive tour of the Flemish Water Supply Company CVBA production facility and laboratory in Leuven. The afternoon then included a cultural stop for participants to experience at the Park Abbey, founded in 1129. A hands-on approach to local infrastructure, culture and history is part of the EJWP aim to bridge better understanding among participants from organizations around Europe.
Before checking out and reviewing results of the week on Friday, the Training Week actually concluded with the beginning of a project. EJWP2 participants will collaborate with partner organization DECHEMA e.V. in Germany on water-intense industries and related aspects of stewardship and use of industrial water. Keep a watch on EJWP communication channels for more on this project as it progresses.
The De Watergroep website describes it as “the largest drinking water company in Flanders. More than 1,470 employees work hard every day to supply water through a network of over 32,000 km to 177 municipalities spread throughout West and East Flanders, Flemish Brabant and Limburg. We serve around 3 million customers and hundreds of companies.”