This spring, the Alberta WaterPortal Society partnered with Canadian non-profit, Waterlution to support the development and facilitation of the Water Innovation Lab (WIL) happening in Alberta this fall (October 5-11).
The WaterPortal is very excited about becoming Waterlution’s strategic partner on this project because WIL is an incredible program that puts the Portal’s mission, of improved water management through increased education and awareness, into action. WIL advances this goal by bringing together the brightest and most passionate water leaders to create innovative ideas and projects that address regional water challenges.
Kim Sturgess, founder and Executive Director of the WaterPortal, said of the partnership “WIL provides the perfect framework for knowledge incubation, transfer, and innovation. The WaterPortal will ensure that ground-breaking ideas and projects generated at WIL will have home post-WIL, so that they translate into long-term, meaningful change in Alberta’s waterscape”.
Karen Kun, president and co-founder of Waterlution, echoed these sentiments saying that “the Alberta WaterPortal Society is an incredible tool to seamlessly continue and advance the work done at WIL”.
So what actually is the Water Innovation Lab?
Described as an ‘unconference’, everyone at the Innovation Lab is a participant and learns together through facilitated dialogue, field tours, as well as testing and piloting new ideas. This event is an immersive, one-of-a kind leadership training program that has been designed to provide water leaders (ages 18-35) with facilitation and leadership skills that enable knowledge sharing and the development of innovative solutions to address complex water challenges. The training WIL provides unites young researchers, community leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs in the water sector and provides a platform for them to ‘think holistically, design innovatively, and communicate effectively across cultures, through a water lens’.
Water Innovation Labs have been run around the world, reaching more than 700 water leaders in over 8 countries. Karen is “excited about bringing the program back to Alberta because this is where it all began, and now we get to share all that global experience and knowledge with WIL’s founding province”.
The focus at WIL Canada 2019 will be on water challenges related to Alberta and western Canada, with the emphasis on the following 8 themes –
- Collaborative watershed planning
- Latest technology in water conservation
- Projects integrating stormwater treatment and harvesting
- Indigenous ways of knowing (TEK)
- Flood management and mitigation
- Water/energy/food nexus
- Urban resiliency
- Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The schedule addresses these themes through field tours, guided by incredible resource guests, as well as workshops run by professional facilitators. Field tours thus far include an amazing day in the Siksika community as well as a tour at the newly opened Dale Hodges Park. Learn more about the schedule here!
At this point, you might be wondering what sets WIL apart from other conferences?
WIL provides participants with an opportunity to become part of the solution! During the Kananaskis days, participants formulate teams to address a specific water challenge. With the support of Waterlution’s facilitators and resource guests, the teams develop a project addressing their selected challenge and pitch it at the end of WIL. Selected projects receive grant funding and mentorship from Waterlution for 9 months after WIL to support the implementation or development of their project.
Another characteristic that sets WIL apart is the people it attracts. Time and time again, participants provide feedback like Taryn’s. An Environmental Engineering PhD Student at the University of Western Ontario, Taryn said that, “WIL Canada was a life changing experience. I have never before had the opportunity to network and collaborate with such a diverse, interdisciplinary group of individuals.”
So what are you waiting for? Apply today for your chance to engage with visionary experts across water disciplines and like-minded peers, and to build your network while working on pressing, real-time water challenges!
The application deadline has been extended to July 31, but don’t wait around as the event is filling up quickly! You can find a link to the application here.