Politics & Laws
Dr. David Garman

Vienna: Blend of Old & New, Theory & Practice

The presentation of new technologies and new practices has been an integral part of IWA World Congresses from the very beginning.

What is more, the work conditions in water management have been dramatically changing in recent years. While the pressure caused by these changes and responses to the latter will naturally differ, there are common learnings that we can draw on in order to achieve optimal outcomes.

Providing an ideal platform for such an exchange is another key concern of our congresses. Despite the continuous topicality of themes, Vienna 2008 will still substantially differentiate itself from previous IWA World Water Fora.

The IWA World Water Forum in Beijing, for instance, will be dedicated to the applications of emerging technologies and to the development of water and wastewater management. This theme focus comes as no surprise, considering that the PR of China is suffering from a regional water shortage. What further aggravates the situation is the large number of unserviced rural populations and the rapidly increasing urbanisation. China is also vitally challenged by the need to take active flood control measures.

The Danube Basin is facing similar challenges which, however, need to be addressed within a much more complex political and legal framework. At the same time, people in the CEE countries demand that the service standards provided to them be increasingly adjusted to those in Western countries.

In this context, the challenge to renovate existing systems is closely linked to the upgrade of services and the introduction of new management philosophies, in the Danube Basin as well as in the entire EU. The background conditions look quite promising. One can almost safely say that Europe is a world leader in maintenance and renovation of infrastructure and also sets the trend in reduced water consumption, a factor of crucial importance in times of climate change and variability.

Austria, especially Vienna, has always interacted closely with the greater Danube Basin in forming an interface between the east and the west. Today, the Austrian capital is increasingly assuming the role of a pivot of technological developments and best-practice models.

Vienna and the Danube Basin are becoming synonymous with a region where the old is blended with the new, innovation with practice, and strategic thinking with practice-oriented management. The organisers of the IWA World Water Congress in Vienna 2008 aim to present this interplay to an international expert audience in a local context.
(Source: aqua press 2/2006a, Dr. David Garman President of IWA from September 2006)

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