Accelerating knowledge sharing to address the water crisis

This blog is part of a series about IWA Fellows and Distinguished Fellows, their career journeys and ambitions for the water sector. In this article, IWA Fellow Ed Smeets talks about his work on economics and statistics and outlines his views on the role of knowledge-sharing as a tool to address the global water crisis. 


Ensuring universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation services is becoming increasingly challenging. In the future, water will be a scarcer commodity, potentially leading to more international conflicts over water accessibility. It is our job and even our duty as water professionals to prevent this from happening by developing solutions to make drinking water available for future generations, and to improve sanitary conditions for people all over the world.

IWA is the leading global organisation for knowledge sharing and networking on water issues. IWA represents thousands of water professionals and organisations, and has enormous expertise on a broad spectrum of water issues. That is why, in my opinion, IWA is best positioned to lead the charge on modernising and improving our industry.

As part of the IWA community, and as chair of IWA’s Specialist Group on Statistics and Economics, I am passionate about engaging fellow water professionals. Our Group covers a broad range of economic issues and deals with financing models, efficiency, pricing and tariffs, cost analysis, regulation, governance, costumer’s behaviour and many other economic issues. We also regularly create surveys about global water themes and special topics, and from these we develop analysis and statistics. We organize regional workshops each year, a special conference every four years, and we launch updated water statistics every two years, while also authoring books and papers. Through this critical work, we aim to fulfil our mission of being a strong knowledge partner of the worldwide water community on economical and statistical topics.

Becoming an IWA Fellow has helped me to connect with other water leaders around the world and influence decision-makers. As a Fellow, I am privileged to be part of a selected group of individuals focused on seeking to develop a water-wise world. My experiences with IWA have been rewarding and personally enriching, allowing me to discover different cultures, cities, people, and different water challenges and solutions.

I want to use this blog as an opportunity to ask my colleagues to think about ways to accelerate knowledge and information-sharing across the water sector. A more efficient system that maximises knowledge transfer can have a positive domino-effect on a global scale and help to address the water crisis. I urge everyone in the water community to make use of knowledge-sharing opportunities, get together, and connect with IWA professionals so that we can all contribute and solve together the many global water challenges.

Ed Smeets

IWA Fellow and Chair of IWA’s Specialist Group on Statistics and Economics.