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This year’s conference focused on change processes and sustainable adaption concepts for urban spaces worldwide on their way to become “water smart”. How can water management become part of urban change processes and what opportunities are offered for achieving the UN sustainability goals of Agenda 2030 (in particular SDG 6 and SDG 11)? Proven experts from business, research, politics and non-governmental organisations presented their concepts in the morning and discussed with the audience in the afternoon during a “Worldcafé”. The developed suggestions and results will form the thematical basis for the next BLUE PLANET conference in April 2019.


Statements of participants:
“It was an inspiriting program with many interesting insights and a great opportunity to meet with new people in the industry. I look forward to continuing learnings at the nect conference in April 2019.” 
Beverley Ferrara, European Representative, The Water Council, Milwaukee, USA

“As moderator, I experienced Blue Planet as a conference with a unique and natural in-depth workflow due to the highly engaged and motivated participants from different geographical regions and backgrounds. Definitely to keep in mind and mark in the calendar as the Blue Community gathers for discussions, reflections, ideas and vivid discussion participation.”
Katie Gallus, Geographer and Moderator


Results of the discussions during the Worldcafé based on four thematic areas:

1 Cyper Physical Water Systems
What aspects are necessary for „water smarter” cities?

The main takeaway of the participants’ discussion about the development of “water smarter” cities is that they require holistic water cycle systems. The argument goes that an interaction between different water systems is needed to make sure that certain compartments do not become neglected or ignored and to avoid data silos. Moreover, one central data system should collect, handle, and visualize data. Emphasis should also be given to the key aspect of electricity, especially in developing countries, in order to avoid bottleneck effects. Leapfrogging is a central idea here, as radical changes instead of small and incremental steps may be necessary for water smarter cities. Yet, the respective culture of a region needs to be considered in order to assess the willingness to accept radical changes.


2 A future perspective for sustainable smart cities
What solutions do we have to react to future challenges such as urbanization, population growth, and climate change?

Participants agreed that involving the inhabitants of a city is a necessity when developing solutions to current challenges. This includes raising awareness for challenges and informing about success stories revolving around water, thus bringing issues more into the public eye. Moreover, long term cooperation and shared experiences while building on local knowledge are likely to bring more sustainable effects.


3 Challenges in the implementation process
How are challenges met on an international level and what are the benefits of water management 4.0?

Again, one of the central aspects here is the perception that challenges revolving around water can only be met via awareness raising and by including the public into the process (# ask them). Yet, it was argued that millennials have different moral concepts and value money differently than the generations before them and integrative processes need to be adapted accordingly: It is not only about asking people but also about the type of questions that are asked, and how. Moreover, there was broad consensus that the education of children on the price of water and waste water needs to become an essential aspect of childhood learning.


4 Nature-based solutions for urban areas
What are opportunities and benefits of nature-based systems?

There was consensus that nature-based solutions are an important and necessary tool to tackle challenges resolving around climate change, health and disease, as well as food management on a city level, especially in developing countries. While the concepts of leadership and capacity building are key aspects here, again, emphasis was put on the development of interdisciplinary structures including alliances on all scales and data monitoring, and the involvement of the local population. Some NBS-strategies raise special interest in people, such as “sponge city”, air-conditioning with rainwater and improving microclimates. Participants agreed that “starting with the easy one” may be the right way forward.




Presentations of the Speakers:


Berry Drijsen, Director of Marketing Water and Thermal Energy, Sensus GmbH (Xylem Inc.), Ludwigshafen, Germany
Smart Water Networks: New technologies for intelligent urban water infrastructure

Justin Abbott, Director and Global Water Skills Leader, ARUP, Leed, United Kingdom
Improving city resilience through a Design with Water approach

Dr.-Ing. Frank Obenaus, Head of Business Unit Operations, Emschergenossenschaft/Lippeverband, Essen, Germany
Challenges and options for a successful digitisation of water infrastructures

Sylvain Usher, Executive Director, African Water Association, Abidjan, Côte d‘Ivoire
Nature-based water management solutions for African cities



Dipl.-Ing. Christian Pohl, Director Business Development D-A-CH, DHI WASY GmbH, Berlin, Germany
Water management 4.0 – Best practice examples of urban 4.0 approaches (Aarhus and Zurich)

Dr.-Ing. Pascale Rouault, Head of Urban Systems, Kompetenzzentrum Wasser Berlin gGmbH, Berlin, Germany
Bathing in urban rivers – Predicting water quality for early warning at bathing sides

Mario Roidt, Project Engineer, Dorsch International Consultants, Pristina, Kosovo
First things first or leapfrogging? Smart Water in Developing Countries


Michael Nashaat, Head of MEP, Infrastructure and Sustainability, Upscale Egypt, Cairo, Egypt
Nabta town as smart and sustainable town in MENA region

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Wagner, Managing Director of the Department of Wastewater Technology, Technical University of Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany
SEMIZENTRAL: An integrated infrastructure concept for fast growing urban areas

Dr.-Ing. Marius Mohr, Group Manager Bioprocess Engineering in the Water Sector and Circular Economy, Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology, Stuttgart, Germany
Developing Smart Cities in India


Rudolf Ball, CEO, SYMVARO GmbH, Klagenfurt, Austria
The WATERLOO Story – How smart solutions go hand in hand with increased efficiency, citizen participation and knowledge building


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heiko Sieker, Managing Director, IPS Consultants mbH, Berlin, Germany
Sustainable Stormwater Management in Berlin – The Sponge City Concept

Dr. Robbert Snep, Senior Researcher in Urban Ecosystems and Practice, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Nature-based solutions for water smart and climate resilient cities

Dr.-Ing. Grit Bürgow, Project Leader ROOF WATER FARM, Technical University of Berlin, Chair of Urban Design and Development, Berlin, Germany
Urban Waters for Urban Agriculture


* The Impulse Lectures & Pitch Sessions are based on the following four thematic areas:
1 Cyber Physical Water Systems
2 A future perspective for sustainable smart cities
3 Challenges in the implementation process
4 Nature-based solutions for urban areas.