Pisa is so much more than the renowned Leaning Tower. An old Maritime Republic, Pisa developed over the centuries along the river Arno. It is a city which has lived and breathed the issue of water throughout its stunning history which has given the World, among others, Galileo Galilei. A city of learning, research and universities with national and international institutes it also boasts the dramatic surroundings of the medieval Arsenali Repubblicani which was the venue for the second annual NETWERC H2O Conference and General Assembly held on the 17th of March, 2016.

Addressing the issue of the Role of Water in the Global Approach to Sustainability, experts from Italy, Germany, Holland, The United Kingdom and the USA discussed in front of an international audience the future opportunities and the obstacles facing cities who seek to implement effective urban policies which will guarantee the sustainable management, governance and supply of water in municipalities.

Marco Filippeschi, the Mayor of Pisa and President of NETWERC H2O stressed the geo-political dimension of urban water management. Referring to the local idiosyncrasies and historical maritime tradition of his city, Filippeschi also indicated the economic importance of waterways and the role which in the 21st Century, such infrastructures still have to play.

Speaking via Video-Conference, the State Secretary of the Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea of Italy, Silvia Velo congratulated NETWERC H2O on its work promoting sustainable urban water management before underlining the need to recycle water for a city not only to be smart, but resilient.

Oriana Romano, Policy Analyst for the OECD Water Governance Programme presented the report, Water Governance in Cities which she has recently completed with Aziza Akhmouch, Head of the aforementioned programme. Her valuable in-depth analysis was followed by a roundtable debate chaired by Marilena Branchina in which Richard Berman, the Director of the Patel College of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida, Kees van Leeuwen, Principal Scientist at KWR in Holland, Paul Fleming of De Montfort University in Leicester and Bernd Gawlik, representing the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission energetically discussed the need for cities to accept an even more important role in international environmental decision-making. Social realities, economic limitations and other obstacles were described before the effectiveness of knowledge exchange between cities, the role of science diplomacy and trans-Atlantic differences were highlighted. Reference was made to those actions in which NETWERC H2O is playing an important role such as the Dubrovnik Declaration of Intent and the Horizon 2020 projects, BlueSCities and POWER.

The afternoon session was devoted to smaller, individual sessions on the NETWERC H2O Communities which under the chairmanship of their respective Team Leaders, are commencing their activities. In the opinion of both the Board of Directors and Management Committee, whilst already an important channel communication between supranational entities and local administrations, the success of NETWERC H2O as an effective organisation will depend in the future very much on the capacity of the Communities, the organisation’s work groups, to provide information and opportunities to cities who wish to implement local water actions. NETWERC H2O must enable its members to participate in initiatives, international project proposals and to foment collaboration and improved transversal synergies.

It is important to understand that the Communities will not compete with work groups established by other water platforms but will aim to provide a SOCIAL complement to the TECHNOLOGICAL objectives of their counterparts. All members of NETWERC H2O are entitled to participate in as many communities as they wish at no cost whatsoever.

Comments are closed.