About the Symposium

The 5th Water Research Commission (WRC) Biennial Symposium is
a key event in the South African water sector calendar that took place place under the theme
“Re-Imagine, Re-Build and Repeat: Future Proofing Water”. This year’s theme focused on
strategies and approaches that the water sector should adopt when working towards
“future proofing water”.

The WRC symposium has always delivered great value for our
stakeholders and served as a platform to showcase the impact and contribution made by the
water research science community. This year’s event was no different, pitched against the
WRC 50-year celebration, the 5th WRC Symposium presented an opportunity for reflection on
South Africa’s water research, development and innovation journey and served as a yardstick
for the progress made in achieving the bold vision of highly informed water decision making
through research, development and innovation at all levels, in all stakeholder groups in
South Africa, Africa and the world.

Great insights

The symposium offered great insights on how the water sector can navigate the new and complex challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and provided opportunities to reflect on winning strategies for building water security and importantly facilitate the exploration of new ways of conducting research, development and innovation in a constantly changing world.

Delegates enjoyed a content rich programme curated by seasoned experts from across the global water sector comprised of expert panels, specialist technical sessions and innovative technology demonstrations. As the symposium unfolded, certain themes started to emerge across keynote addresses, workshops and technical sessions:

Programme

The Symposium’s three-day programme boasted international and industry wide deliberations and dialogue across several streams carefully curated to drive robust engagement across the water sector.

The symposium plenary sessions served as strategic reflection points to take stock of our progress and highlight what we need to focus on in the future in order to turn the crisis of water insecurity into opportunity. These sessions included a Deputy Minister’s Roundtable focussed on flagship programmes driven in collaboration with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA); an Africa Seminar on accelerating Africa’s actions towards SDG6 through partnerships and a robust youth programme that profiled the youth of the sector as key architects in future proofing water comprised of the young water professionals debate and the WRC 50 hackathon challenge.

The symposium exhibition and marketplace offered the opportunity for delegates to engage with key sector enablers as well as profiled and showcased a diverse range of technology demonstrations that form part of a wider tech and innovation toolbox put together by the WRC and its partners in response to the grand challenges faced by our sector.

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Download the Detailed Programme Booklet

Keynote

Speakers

Keynote addresses delivered by local and international speakers aimed to set the strategic direction of the overall programme and drive engagement on pertinent issues related to our sustainable future in a manner that will frame the macro and microenvironment opportunities available through policy to grow and future proof the sector.

These high-level presentations gave impetus to the symposium’s technical sessions whose primary aim was to showcase the impact of the WRC through the display of R&D outputs aimed to inform policy and drive informed decision making with credible world-class knowledge.

Dr Sunita Narain
Writer, activist and environmentalist

As the director general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in India, the treasurer of the Society for Environmental Communications and editor of Down To Earth magazine, Dr Narain uses knowledge for change.

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Minister Senzo Mchunu
Minister of Water and Sanitation

Before venturing into politics and rising in the ranks of South African government, Minister Mchunu started out in education. He is an alumnus of the University of Zululand and the University of South Africa, where he obtained a Batchelor of Arts

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Samantha Suppiah
Design strategist for sustainability and regeneratio

Samantha Suppiah is an active participant in the ongoing global discourse on the sustainable built environment and a proponent of decolonial and regenerative urban design that shifts communities into inclusive social prosperity.

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Technical

Sessions

The WRC’s impact and reach is illustrated by its investment in research, development
and innovation aimed at;

The organisation’s strategic partnerships and investment in the multiplier effect are the bedrock
of research development and include promoting knowledge production and dissemination in the mentioned six focus areas.
All brought to life by a robust technical programme aimed at supporting and enabling South Africa and the
African continent to achieve the water related sustainable development goals.

Session 1

Tech and Innovation Forum
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Session 2

Environmental and human health effects of water contaminants
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Session 3

Market Development for Water Innovations
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Session 4

Future Proofing Water Skills
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Session 5

WRC Symposium SANITI
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Session 6

WEF Nexus session
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Session 7

Part 1 - WaterNet SANWATCE
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Session 7

Part 2 - HR2W AND WATERSHARE
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Session 8

Groundwater
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Session 9

Governance and Transformation
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Session 10

Innovation Market Place
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Session 11

Policy implications on supported self-supply for community
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Session 12

Wetlands and Livelihood
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Session 13

Enhancing Water Food and Nutritional Security
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Session 14

Fifteen years of EDC research
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Session 15

Investment in Ecological Infrastructure
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Session 16

Citizen Science
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Session 17

SASTEP Workshop Concept Note paid user sanitation
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Session 18

Models, Tools And Decision Support Systems
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Session 19

Part 1 - Launch of Water Institutes Alliance
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Session 19

Part 2 - Danish Embassy
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Session 21

Agricultural Decision Support Tools
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Session 22

Water Services
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Session 23

Showcasing Operationalising MUS
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Session 24

Estuaries and blue Economy
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Session 25

SASTEP Water Efficient Workshop
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Session 26

Innovation Market Place
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Session 27

EU-SA SP DF Consultative workshop
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Session 28

Celebrating More Than 30 Years of Improving Industrial Water
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Session 29

Alternative water sources
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Session 30

Tech and Innovation Forum
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Exhibition

An online demonstration and exhibition formed part of the 5th WRC Symposium. Using a high-tech online platform, the exhibition provided an interactive and exciting space to showcase key water sector organisations and a selection of water technology innovations.

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Innovation Demonstrators

Media

All the details of the 5th WRC Symposium.
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Full Highlights

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Day 1 Highlight

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Day 2 Highlight

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MUS impact of training interviews

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MOU signing Day 1

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MOU signing Day 2

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Deputy Minister David Mahlobo

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50 Year Book launch

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5th Symposium Theme

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2021

5th WRC Symposium
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