Forum Reflections: A Celebration of Progress and Vision For Future Milestones

If you attended the Forum in December – thank you!  You should have received in your inbox on January 7 an invitation to take a survey to provide your feedback about the event. Your feedback is critical to helping us assess how valuable the Forum was for attendees and also consider what future forums will look like.

Also, presentations and podcasts will be posted on this site very soon. We’ll post a new blog once they are up. We are also developing a report of the key items and outcomes from the Forum.

City of Rotterdam's Paula Verhoeven speaking at the 2015 Forum.

City of Rotterdam’s Paula Verhoeven speaking at the 2015 Forum.

Participants from North and South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa learned about “on the ground” activities utilities are performing to plan for and address drought, sea level rise and a host of extreme weather events and future climate and urban uncertainties.  More than 200 water sector representatives came away with ideas and inspiration for moving ahead to address climate change challenges to the world’s water systems.

Envisioned as a follow-up event to the 2010 Forum, where speakers discussed initial plans to understand and address potential climate impacts, the 2015 Forum included illustrations and case studies of how utilities and communities are becoming more resilient, demonstrating just how much progress has been made in five years.

Closing speaker Pat Mulroy summed up the event well when she said that the discussions at the Forum made clear that despite the uncertainties of the future, the water utility industry has demonstrated it is reimagining, reinventing and re-envisioning itself to the challenges presented by climate change.  A key thread of the Forum, she noted, was one of strategic partnerships between different levels of government, watershed neighbors, technology companies, customers and beyond. This thread was one of many from the event that demonstrated that utilities are transitioning from reactive to proactive solutions to become more resilient.

Nearly every Forum speaker discussed the role of partnerships in their resilience and strategic planning to address climate change impacts. She pulled other threads that were woven throughout the Forum: the need for resilient regulatory and governance structures, and the need for human capital, human acumen and social strategies that can be connected to infrastructure strategies. Forum speakers and attendees represented the luminaries in climate resilience but with that, she concluded, comes the responsibility to lead, guide and persuade people to start thinking differently.