Colombo 2019 Congress in numbers











Water is one of the most critical issues facing the world today, with developing and emerging economies facing some of the biggest water challenges and representing some of the biggest opportunities to get our water future right.

Under the theme of ‘Water, sanitation and climate resilience – keys to a water-wise future’, the 2023 edition will provide an outstanding platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and innovation. Participants can expect a rich programme featuring inspiring keynote speeches, interactive sessions, technical presentations, workshops, networking opportunities and targeted activities for various industry segments.

Programme features include a High-Level Summit, the Utility Leaders Forum, the Regulators Forum, the Emerging Water Leaders Forum, and a special new-format activity focused on innovation. Scroll down to find out more about these unmissable initiatives!

High-Level Summit 2022

• Circular economy
• Climate smart approaches to water and sanitation
• Digital transformation
• Intermittent water supply and the quest for 24/7
• Inclusive urban sanitation
• Inclusiveness and equality
• Innovation in technology and policy
• Nature-based solutions in supply, sanitation, and stormwater
• Partnerships and multi-stakeholder collaboration
• Water and sanitation safety plans

1st Edition | 11 December 2023

The Innovation Acceleration Forum will provide access to innovations and to thinking around the sanitation agenda and aims to bring together innovators, government, utilities, city managers and practitioners. Selected sanitation innovators will also take part in a dedicated IWA SanitAction Innovators Expo running alongside the Forum, providing a platform for technology offerings, especially those from Africa or relevant to its sanitation landscape and challenges.

The Forum is part of a series of activities being organised under the IWA’s Inclusive Urban Sanitation initiative that responds to a huge and growing public need – to ensure safe, equitable, resilient, and sustainable urban sanitation services. The initiative is being progressed through a dedicated campaign #SanitAction to garner support and collaborative action.

2nd Edition | 11 December

The IWA 2023 High-Level Summit in Kigali will engage politicians and policymakers to amplify the need for action and the potential routes for progress broadly around the Congress theme of ‘Water, sanitation, and climate resilience – keys to a water-wise future’.

The Summit is expected to provide a bridge to connect multiple agendas, especially regarding the practical implementation of actions and financing to accelerate progress on sanitation in Africa. The Summit will bring political voices together around messages to shape policy and action that can be carried forward beyond the event.

The Summit will focus on one or more key topics and agendas to capitalise on the synergy between the input of local and regional leadership and experience, on the one hand, and IWA’s capacity to convene globally-authoritative expertise, on the other. With this combination, the Summit can serve as a reference point to stimulate and guide action in the Africa region.

IWA is delighted to present the second edition of the IWA Climate Smart Utilities Recognition Programme. Building upon the success of its inaugural edition in 2022, the recognition programme offers an outstanding opportunity to self-reflect on the utility’s Climate Smart journey, present actions to an international audience, and share aspirations to achieve a climate smart water sector. In connection with the upcoming IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition on 10-14 December 2023 in Rwanda, this edition has a special focus on low- and middle-income countries. Utilities are selected based on their submitted narratives summarising their Climate Smart vision and key actions taken on:

  1. Adaptation: Improving resilience to adapt to climate change
  2. Mitigation: Assessing and aiming to reduce GHG emissions
  3. Leadership: Leading and inspiring others to take Climate Smart action for a water-wise future

Selected utilities will be announced in a formal event during the IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition on 10-14 December 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda.

5th Edition – 13 December 2023

Programme Theme: Empowering Young Water Professionals to Champion the Course for a Water and Climate-Resilient Future

The IWA Emerging Water Leaders Forum is an event which sets an open platform for young water professionals to connect with their peers from around the world. The Forum is a place to share professional experiences and highlight the critical responsibility of Young Water Professionals (YWPs) working on solutions for the future of water.

The global water sector faces unprecedented challenges, exacerbated by climate change, population growth, and urbanisation. To address these challenges effectively, it is crucial to empower and equip the next generation of water professionals with the knowledge, skills, and networks necessary to champion the course for a climate and water-resilient future.

The primary objective of the 2023 Emerging Water Leaders Forum is to empower young water professionals to become leaders in addressing the challenges posed by climate change and water scarcity. Through engaging sessions, interactive workshops, and networking opportunities, participants will gain valuable insights and practical knowledge to contribute to a more sustainable and resilient water future.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Enhanced Knowledge: Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the water sector, particularly in the context of climate change.
  • Skill Development: Young professionals will acquire practical skills and tools that are essential for addressing water-related issues.
  • Networking: Participants will have the chance to build meaningful connections with peers, mentors, and potential collaborators.
  • Increased Engagement: The event aims to inspire young water professionals to actively engage in efforts to ensure a sustainable and resilient water future.

Chelsea Hayward, Australia

Jacob Amengor, Ghana

Isabela Espindola, Brazil

8th Edition | 12 December 2023

Programme Theme: Contextualising water and sanitation regulation in different settings

The International Water Regulators Forum (IWRF) is the international meeting of the global network of regulators of IWA. It gathers high-level representatives of regulatory authorities and officials of agencies with regulatory and supervisory functions over the provision of water, sanitation, and wastewater treatment services.

The 8th IWRF in Kigali will address current regulatory priority challenges and topics of interest to regulators. The Forum is being shaped and steered by a diverse and motivated Programme Committee, a committed group of professionals consisting of high-profile members of the IWA Regulators Community.

The upcoming 8th IWRF will focus on re-evaluating and amplifying the role of regulators and regulations in achieving the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda, considering the different contexts in which water and sanitation regulation is applied around the world. Building on the success of previous editions, the 2023 edition aims to identify innovative developments and chart a path towards resilient and sustainable universal access to water and sanitation for all. By exploring the adaptive and innovative approaches required to address varying socio-economic, geographical, and cultural contexts, the Forum aims to uncover the opportunities and challenges inherent in tailoring water regulation strategies to specific settings, fostering a deeper understanding of how regulatory frameworks can be optimised for maximum impact in a rapidly changing world.

Objectives of the 8th IWRF

  • Increase awareness among water regulators, policymakers, researchers, and stakeholders about the different water governance and management settings, and the importance of adapting water regulation to local characteristics.
  • Identify opportunities for policy reforms and legal changes that align with different and non-traditional water governance and management formats taking into consideration the socioeconomic context.
  • Foster dialogue and understanding between Western science and indigenous knowledge systems to promote cross-cultural learning and collaboration in water governance and management.

12 December 2023

Programme theme: Cultivating high-impact synergies to address water utility challenges

Utilities – water and sanitation service providers – play a crucial role in ensuring access to safe water and sanitation. In low- and middle-income countries, they face challenges such as intermittent water supply which are exacerbated by population growth, ageing and inadequate infrastructure, and climate change. At the same time, they can be instrumental in the uptake of innovative solutions, and they are vital actors at the local level. As such, water utility leaders must work together to confront today’s pressing issues and generate solutions.

Under the theme of “Cultivating high-impact synergies to address water utility challenges,” this exclusive forum, jointly organised by the International Water Association (IWA) and the African Water and Sanitation Association (AfWASA), will be held on 12 December in Kigali, Rwanda, during the Water and Development Congress & Exhibition. The event is by invitation and is tailored for utility leaders. You may submit an invitation request by filling out this online form.

The event offers a distinct opportunity for leaders in the sector to network, exchange ideas, and draw inspiration from one another in a collaborative and supportive setting. Through compelling keynote addresses, engaging roundtable discussions, and interactive sessions, participants will gain valuable insights into the latest trends and innovations in utility operations, along with best practices to address the challenges faced by water and sanitation utilities today. The ULF aims to shed light on some of the most pressing concerns in the water utility sector: exploring successful innovations and best practices and dissecting the contributing factors to their effectiveness, empowering utilities to accelerate the adoption and scalability of critical solutions for water and sanitation, equipping them with the means to adapt to climate change and build resilience, and ultimately fostering strategies for utilities to collectively address challenges within the water and sanitation sector.

For more information and to request an invitation please contact, responsible for IWA’s utility community.

At the Congress you will have the opportunity to:

  • Create new, inspiring solutions to the world’s water development challenges 
  • Validate and disseminate work by presenting it at a world-class event 
  • Learn and grow professionally through privileged access to the best content, cross-sector knowledge, and diverse experiences 
  • Expand your network and meet new professional partners by engaging with the leading water experts