Global Agriculture

Scottish innovation in Edinburgh World Water Day spotlight

21 March 2023, UK: Scotland’s water sector leaders, from academia to industry and government, will gather in Edinburgh tomorrow [22nd March ] to discuss how Scottish innovation and cooperation can safeguard global water sustainability and resilience.

The World Water Day 2023 event will see around 150 sector professionals in person and many more online to explore emerging trends and opportunities in the sector, from health through to urban infrastructure.

The event, organised by by Scotland’s Hydro Nation International Centre (HNIC), based at The James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, coincides with the first day of the UN’s 2023 Water Conference in New York – the first event of its kind for nearly 50 years – which aims to agree a global Water Action Agenda.

Mairi McAllan MSP, Minister for Environment and Land Reform, who will give an opening address, says, “Water is critical to life and a fundamental resource that supports everything we do. World Water Day provides an opportunity to highlight how Scotland’s water sector is tackling key water issues and is contributing to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 on access to clean water.

“Scotland’s water industry is world-leading, in no small part due to the ongoing cooperation and innovation within the sector. It is crucial that we retain and build upon these partnerships in order to overcome the challenges that the industry will face in the future.”

Around 20 speakers representing Public Health Scotland, Scottish Water, the Scottish Environment and Protection Agency (SEPA), and key academic and industry partners will discuss issues from health and well being through to net zero targets at the Scottish Government-funded event, which also coincides with the 30th anniversary of the global World Water Day.

Rachel Helliwell, Director of HNIC and Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW), based at The James Hutton Institute, says, “Scotland is a world leader in water research, regulation and governance. Partnership working and collaboration allowed a rapid response to emergencies such as the covid pandemic, where wastewater was monitored and tested to track infection rates. In combination with community testing, this information is helping Scotland understand the prevalence and distribution of the virus and and a broader, unbiased, picture of the possible number of cases in a community.

“We’re also leading on digitalisation; using satellites and earth observation alongside state of the art ground sensor technology to create digital twins to bring catchment science into the 21st century. At World Water Day, we’ll share and learn from this work and look at how, as a Hydro Nation, we can help other nations address their water challenges.”

There will also be a summary of the first year of Scotland’s Hydro Nation Chair from George Ponton, Head of Research and Innovation at Scottish Water and closing remarks from Jon Rathjen, Deputy Director, Water Policy & Directorate of Energy and Climate Change Operations, at the Scottish Government.

The annual CREW lecture, given at the end of the main World Water Day sessions, will be provided by the FLOW Partnership’s Operations Director Minni Jain speaking about their direct experience of community-led management for hydrological extremes.

Notes for Editors

World Water Day was founded in 1993, on recommendation of that year’s UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero, to address water and santiation issues, which to this day still undermine progress on global issues, from health and hunger to equality, jobs and disasters.

Scotland’s World Water Day was first held in 2019. It saw the launch of the HNIC to coordinate and amplify expertise, talent, innovation and research around water in Scotland as well as internationally as part of Scotland’s efforts to become the world’s first Hydro nation. Since then, HNIC has organised Scotland’s annual World Water Day.

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