In the end of October, the IWAMA project organized a large event bringing attention to the needs of the water sector in the Baltic Sea Region. The IWAMA Water Forum took place on 23–24 October 2017 in Växjö, Sweden, and attracted almost 80 participants from cities, research institutions, water utilities and environmental centers.
The event started on Monday with a visit to the local wastewater treatment facility Sundet. As Sweden aims at turning wastewater treatment plants to resource recovery facilities, Sundet is a great example of this ambition. The plant is a local center for biogas production: apart from extracting biogas from the treated wastewater, the plant also processes the organic waste brought to the plant from the city. The biogas is used not only to make the plant self-sustaining, but also to support the local transportation system: buses in Växjö operate on biogas, just as the cars used on the plant.
The second day of the Forum programme was focused on the primary aim of the event: launching of the online portal Baltic Smart Water Hub. This portal has been developed in the framework of the IWAMA project by the project’s Lead Partner UBC Sustainable Cities Commission.
To support the launch, three sessions of the Forum opened up different aspects of cooperation central for the successful work of the portal. In the key note presentation, Joacim Rosenlund from the Linnaeus University introduced quadruple helix – an innovative cooperation model for sharing knowledge and transfer know-how. In the water sector, the need of a transdisciplinary approach is recognized to improve the sector’s development. And while the triple helix cooperation has been addressed to before involving the spheres of university, industry and government, now, the quadruple helix was presented with the civil society to be seen as the fourth necessary pillar in this cooperation.
Cooperation and knowledge exchange are central for the Baltic Smart Water Hub portal, a place of technical expertise and a database of exemplary solutions existing in the water areas of the Baltic Sea Region. The Hub bases on four elements: good practices, technical solutions, tools and experts. Through the cases demonstrated in the Hub, its users can find ideas and inspiration for investments, solutions to similar challenges and tools to use in the daily work.
Several cases already uploaded to the portal have been presented during the second session of the IWAMA Water Forum. Those, related to different water fields and introducing various categories of Hub information, were very useful for the practical examples of the Hub operation. The session continued with the testing workshop, during which all participants shared their comments on the Hub’s outlook, content, user-friendliness, and technical sides.
The last session of the Forum was organized back to back with the UBC XIV General Conference thus involving representatives of the Baltic Sea Region cities to discuss the current state and future perspectives of the water sector, and the Hub as a potential connectivity point for the regional water aspects. The panelists of the session represented various points of view, from organizations shaping the water policies, to cities applying water solutions.
We would like to sincerely thank the participants of the Water Forum! We appreciate the feedback shared regarding the Baltic Smart Water Hub, and hope that together we can adjust it to meet the needs of the complex and multilevel water sector.