Communication in focus at WWWeek At Home

News Aug 17, 2020

What does it take to really change human behaviour? Few questions are as important for the water, climate and development communities and it will be a hot topic at WWWeek At Home, 24-28 August. Communication has taken on a new significance and WWWeek At Home is experimenting with innovative formats, including live drawings.

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World Water Week has always tried to be at the forefront when it comes to inclusion and has received much attention for its Gold Standard that promotes equality and innovation. Still, the conversation about water topics needs to reach many more people across the world and one of the main conclusions after World Water Week 2018 was that communication is one of the future’s greatest challenges.

This may be even more true today and when World Water Week 2020 had to be cancelled due to Covid-19, the organizers at SIWI soon decided to instead offer an alternative digital arena for important conversations about water and climate. The result is WWWeek At Home, a unique series of 120 sessions that anyone can join, free of charge, to learn about water-related challenges and solutions. Information about everything on offer can be found in the programme.

“Many people are not aware of the role of water for food, health, the climate and the economy. WWWeek At Home will help us reach new groups and bring together people from many different backgrounds,” says Gabriela Suhoschi, Director World Water Week & Prizes at SIWI.

One way we will help reach newer audiences is by sharing graphic recordings illustrating key messages from ten sessions. The initiative stems from The Government of the Netherlands, one of the WWWeek At Home partners.

Aart van der Horst, Senior Policy Adviser Water at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, explains: “The Covid-19 crisis forced us to think about new ways to get our messages to people. Speaking for myself, my brain remembers pictures, not words. This drew me to the idea of the cartoons. I hope they will always bring a smile to our faces when we think about the first World Water Week At Home.”

Adrian Puigarnau, Senior Manager World Water Week & Prizes, describes the use of cartoons as a great way to reach new groups. “With this initiative we want to provide an easy entry point for stakeholders who are not familiar with the water conversation but who should be part of the discussion to help find sustainable solutions to today’s challenges,” he says.

SIWI also encourages journalists to report about water issues. In addition to training programmes for reporters, the organization has for many years offered scholarships to journalists from low-income countries to travel to World Water Week.

Building upon this experience, SIWI will in 2021 launch the new World Water Week Communications Initiative, thanks to a grant the Grundfos Foundation. The idea is to further leverage the World Water Week platform to build journalist and communication capacity. This should facilitate and encourage effective storytelling and outreach on water issues towards audiences beyond the water community. Read more about the new World Water Week Communications Initiative.

Adrian Puigarnau believes that communication will be increasingly important in the future. “People need to start protecting and valuing water, but in many places, this will require a major shift in attitudes. We need communication that inspires people to look at water in a new way,” he says.  

To learn more about all the 120 sessions and join WWWeek At Home, check out the programme here.