A platform for water and development

Reaching its 7th edition in 2023, the IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition has a track record of gathering together leading water sector practitioners, researchers, and policy makers to focus on the needs of low- and middle-income countries.

The IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition features a mix of workshops, seminars, plenary sessions, side events, award ceremonies, poster sessions and a dedicated exhibition to help drive water cooperation and water solutions that can be applied globally.


Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sustainable solutions for emerging economies

Water lies at the very heart of most developmental processes, and Sri Lanka, despite possessing rich water resources, is still confronting important threats. From 1 to 5 December 2019, Sri Lanka hosted the IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition at the Bandaranaike International Memorial Conference Hall in Colombo. The event gathered around 3000 participants from 90 countries.

The Development Congress & Exhibition provided a unique opportunity to confront climate change and emerging environment related health issues. The water sector lies at the crossroads of the human, political and economic development. Sri Lanka has performed well with regard to the millennium development goals and is focusing clearly on achieving the SDGs with respect to the provision of safe water and improved sanitation. The event in Sri Lanka has offered sustainable solutions for emerging economies requiring financial, social and organisational development policies that fit their new political and economic context.

2019 IWA Water and Development Award – Research

2019 IWA Water and Development Award –  Practice

Opening Day

Closing Day


Buenos Aires, Argentina

Sustainable solutions for emerging economies

In November 2017, Argentina hosted the International Water Association’s Water and Development Congress & Exhibition, one of the most important events globally in the field of water and sanitation. In addition to the excellent news for Argentina, as this event represents an opportunity to showcase the country’s new policies aimed at gaining efficiency in the management of public services and the commitment to the improvement of water and sanitation services, this Conference is also a great opportunity for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

Latin America and the Caribbean have made good, but insufficient, progress in terms of access to water and sanitation over the last two decades, measured by the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Today, more than 110 million people in the region lack of adequate sanitation solutions and more than 30 million lack of access to safe water. In factual terms, the situation of water and sanitation services in LAC is more critical than what MDGs achievements showed. The goals for the new and ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) impose a great challenge on governments, water and sanitation utilities and the community.

Water Professionals’ Vision

Innovative Financing Mechanisms to Meet SDG6 Target

2017 IWA Water and Development Award – Research

Sustainable Solutions for Water and Sanitation Exhibition


Dead Sea, Jordan

Water security for sustainable growth

Organised by the International Water Association (IWA) in Jordan from 18 – 22 October, the Congress features a range of topics and a diverse set of viewpoints from global water leaders. Agenda setting Keynote Speakers will daily set the tone and address the key opportunities to finding solutions for global water challenges.

The development paradigm is evolving quickly beyond established boundaries. Failing states, slowly developing countries, developing and emerging economies see large differences in their models and stages of progress. This is reflected at the national and sub-national level in areas of stability, development and growth alternating with areas of instability, under-development and stagnation. A diverse set of factors underlie the differences in development across continents and nations. In whatever form, they make up a complex context within which water resources are managed and water, sanitation and wastewater services are delivered. The potential and contribution of water management to development in this diverse set of situations varies greatly.

Themes Discussed at the 2015 Edition

IWA: Connecting the World of Water Professionals

Nanotechnology for a Sustainable Water Future

The Business Dimension to Water


Nairobi, Kenya

The IWA Development Congress & Exhibition Nairobi, held in Nairobi, Kenya, on the 14 -17 October 2013 was one of IWA’s main biennial events addressing urban water management issues in low and middle income countries. The Congress attracted 1056 delegates working as water professionals for companies and institutions.

The overarching goal of IWA’s Development Congress series was to identify, showcase and debate practical experiences and examples of service provision in developing countries that ‘work’, and critically, ‘work at large scale’. The Congress was therefore explicitly solutions focused, rather than diagnosing the challenges and problems in the sector, which are already well documented.

Within this framework, the themes and topics of the Congress were relevant to the arena in which most progress in terms of coverage and implementation solutions must be made: urban service provision in low and middle income countries. The overarching theme for the 2013 Development Congress and Exhibition was Catalysing Urban Water Transitions.


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Communities and water professionals in developing countries face challenges in the delivery of safe, clean drinking water and sanitation services. The International Water Association hosted 800 like-minded professionals to attend the 2nd IWA Development Congress and Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2011.


Mexico City, Mexico

The aim of the 1st IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition, which took place in Mexico City, in 2009,  was and is to build bridges between water professionals working in different regions, in different organisations and with different approaches to water and sanitation service delivery in low- and middle-income countries.