After a great deal of discussion and with much sadness, we have decided to cancel World Water Week 2020 scheduled to take place in Stockholm 23-28 August. This was not an easy decision to make, nor is it one we have taken lightly. This year would have been the 30th anniversary of World Water Week – but instead it has been cancelled for the first time ever.
The formal decision was taken by SIWI’s Board after closely monitoring both the spread of COVID-19 around the world and the measurements being taken by governments globally. It became clear that the unpredictability of the situation, which is likely to last for many months, would make the planning and execution of World Water Week extremely challenging for SIWI, our community of conveners, our partners and all participants.
The wellbeing of our community is our top priority. Given World Water Week’s global audience and the fact that the COVID-19 outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), we consider that holding a major event like World Water Week would pose an unacceptable risk to the health of our participants.
We are, as always, committed to serving our community in the best way possible. Organizing and engaging in World Water Week requires large investments in both time and money for everyone involved. Therefore, we wanted to make an early decision rather than taking the risk of a wait-and-see approach.
The outstanding contributions to the World Water Week’s programme as well as the enthusiasm for this year’s theme ‘Water and Climate Change: Accelerating Action’ have not gone unnoticed. We ask for your patience as we investigate ways to incorporate this year’s content into World Water Week in 2021.
We have also evaluated the option of hosting an online event this year in lieu of the event in Stockholm. While we have significantly strengthened World Water Week’s online presence in recent years, we have decided that given the time and resources available, it is not feasible to move the event online while also retaining the important benefits of the on-site event and the quality our community deserves.
We are delighted to announce that this year’s Stockholm Water Prize Laureate is Professor John Cherry for discoveries that have revolutionized our understanding of groundwater vulnerability. We are exploring how to celebrate Dr John Cherry at World Water Week in 2021.
We are also investigating ways to organize this year’s Stockholm Junior Water Prize – with many national competitions already underway - and will communicate more on this in due time.
The World Water Week team and the wider SIWI family are grateful for your understanding, patience and support.
Executive Director, SIWI
Director, World Water Week & Prizes, SIWI