Transformation and innovation must go hand in hand – GWP Annual Conference 2022

The traditional annual conference of the only association of the internationally oriented German water industry, German Water Partnership e.V., took place in Berlin on July 6. Under the heading “Water. Climate. Wandel.”, around 150 expert representatives from the German water industry, research and politics discussed current topics such as sponge city concepts, smart water, aquatic systems as well as innovative technologies for the success of the energy transition nationally and the increase of climate resilience worldwide.

The annual conference was opened by Dr. Bettina Hoffmann, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV). In her welcoming address, she referred to the upcoming further development of the national water strategy and emphasized the importance of the topic of water in the national as well as international context.

Getting change right: Germany needs new momentum

In an impressive speech, the Chairman of the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) and former Bavarian Environment Minister Dr. Werner Schnappauf emphasized the need for a transformation push. The economy and the environment must be brought into balance through far-reaching change, he said. This transformation would require a new dynamic in Germany, regardless of the possible risks.

The predominantly medium-sized membership of the network also expressed the wish during the conference that bureaucracy and formal hurdles in national as well as international tenders must be reduced in order to enable the use of innovative technologies in the first place and to promote new ideas and developments in the industry.

International network

International guests at the conference were the ambassadors of Egypt and Indonesia – two important partner countries of GWP. H. E. Khaled Galal Abdelhamid, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt, referred to his country’s chairmanship of the UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP 27) in November 2022 and highlighted the critical situation related to transboundary water resources management in the region.

H. E. Arif Havas Oegroseno, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, focused on the hosting of the 2024 World Water Forum in Bali and expressed the desire to intensify the traditional cooperation between Germany and Indonesia in the water sector ahead of this important conference.

Focus on water management issues of the future

The newly elected German Water Partnership board members Axel Böcker, Dorsch Gruppe, Ingo Hannemann, HAMBURG WASSER, Alexandra Ervenich, Mitsubishi Electric Europe BV, as well as Mike Busse-Lepsius from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) discussed in the panel WATER. CLIMATE. CHANGE. moderated by Gunda Röstel, GWP Chairman of the Board and GWP Managing Director Julia Braune, with lively participation from conference participants. Workshops and discussions highlighted future water management topics such as dealing with heavy rainfall events, aquatic systems in the growing business field of fish farming, and resilience of infrastructures against the backdrop of the consequences of climate change, thus bridging the gap to the topics of food and energy, especially in the form of hydrogen production.

Review: Session WATER.

Water-Energy-Food Nexus: How can the precious resource of water be used more efficiently, sustainably and safely to meet the global challenge of feeding a growing world population? This question was addressed by the participants in the WATER session. Dr. Rokia Goldmann from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) presented the project Water and Energy for Food, which aims to promote climate-friendly, energy-efficient and water-saving innovations in food production.

Innovative solutions in the field of agricultural irrigation as well as trend-setting models from the aqua- and fishfarming sector have an enormous potential to secure a global and resource-saving food supply.

Christoph Urbschat, eclareon GmbH, gave an overview of national and international trends in the field of agricultural irrigation and Parssa Razavi, Irriport GmbH, spoke about the optimization potential of agricultural irrigation systems. The moderator of the session and head of the GWP Regional Forum China Prof. Dr. Martin Wagner, Technical University Darmstadt, gave an exciting insight into aquaculture systems and their future prospects for the German water industry.

A look at the business areas linked to the corresponding technologies shows that these hold enormous international growth potential not only for the German water industry, but moreover for numerous peripheral economic sectors!

The presentations of the WATER. session are available here.

Review: Session CLIMATE.

The consequences of climate change are being felt globally. In the session CLIMATE. the focus was on the city of the future, which has to face multiple challenges. Why can Sponge Cities be an answer to the advancing climate change? Angeli Büttner, KLIMA.connection, who also moderated the session, presented concepts and possibilities in her impulse.

GWP members Stefanie Feurstein and Anne Sintic, Hydrotec Ingenieurgesellschaft für Wasser und Umwelt mbH presented the use of simulation models for heavy rainfall prevention and forecasting and Dr. Issa Hansen, SEBA Hydrometrie presented a practical example: the application of an innovative flow measurement method using the example of a Sponge City project in Beijing/ China. Dr. Ursula Schließmann, Head of Department Environmental Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB and newly re-elected GWP board member presented design potentials of sponge city solutions in the complex urban structure based on two examples.

You can access the presentations of the session CLIMATE. here.

Review: Session CHANGE.

The resource water is unique and irreplaceable. Under the keyword “Blue Economy” it is considered as an economic factor. In addition to the classic fields of fishing or drinking water production, green hydrogen is moving into focus. In order to secure our energy needs against the backdrop of the current crisis, we have to break new ground. Is hydrogen part of a sustainable solution? What do current concepts look like? Which partners are available to support the German water industry? Together with the Agency for Economics & Development (AWE), GWP explored the topic from different angles in the session CHANGE, looking at financing, economic potential and the ecological dimension.

Moderated by Carolin Welzel (AWE), Josh Ling, Asian Development Bank (ADB) gave an insight into “ADB’s support to Healthy Oceans and the Blue Economy”, followed by an introduction to hydrogen by Dirk Niemeier, PwC Germany. Dr. Daniel Frank, DECHEMA raised the question of the potential for a green hydrogen industry in Namibia. DECHEMA is investigating this in a project together with local stakeholders. Gero Böhmer, Wilo Group presented a reference project for sustainable hydrogen production at the campus in Dortmund and Mathias Stief, PWT Wasser- und Abwassertechnik GmbH took a critical look at the buzzword resilience in water management and infrastructure projects.

The presentations of the session CHANGE. are available here.

We would like to thank all speakers and guests for their participation and the exciting presentations, insights and impulses that once again made our annual conference an exciting and varied industry meeting of the international water industry.

Impressions of the GWP Annual Conference 2022

Image credits: ProjectImages / GWP, thumbnail: GWP.