One of the Grand Plans of the new WAITRO Secretariat when it started in 2019 was to expand the scope of the popular biennial General Assembly into a “Global Innovation Summit” that would bring together the Global Innovation Family to discuss research priorities, learn from one another, and showcase the products and impacts of international collaborative research.
The location for the Summit was planned to be Pretoria, South Africa. However, the COVID-19 pandemic made impossible all travel ground, thereby the preparations had to change plans. In 2020, the Secretariat moved the entire event to the cloud, creating the first WAITRO Virtual Innovation Summit. The three-day meeting, from October 28 to 30, used the online Meetyoo platform.
The hard work and great costs gave amazing results, as the WAITRO://50- Virtual Innovation Summit was a resounding success. More than one thousand registrants were recorded during the three-day period from all over the world.
Water: The main subject of the WAITRO://50
In early 2019, the Executive Board agreed that focusing on just one Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) would make the Innovation Summit more valuable, and the subject of water was chosen (SDG 6, and of particular relevance to Southern Africa). Four sessions, including keynotes and panel discussions, were part of the WAITRO Virtual Innovation Summit:
- Water and the SDGs: Innovation and Impact
- Rebuild Better: An opportunity for a sustainable, resilient and equitable society
- Innovative solutions to solve energy, water and food nexus stress
- The critical role of the private sector in solving wicked water challenges
Capacity Development at WAITRO://50
For the 50th anniversary of WAITRO, the WAITRO Secretariat was committed to integrating our members and their capacities as much as possible into our WAITRO:// 50 Virtual Innovation Summit. Members had expressed their desire to actively shape the Virtual Innovation Summit, which is why the WAITRO Secretariat announced a Call open to all members who were interested in sharing their expertise to host their own online capacity development workshop during the event. Four workshops were held:
- Efficient remote Work – Best practices
- Meeting the changing conditions following the COVID-19 Crisis
- Facilitating Sustainable Development with a focus on realizing circular water management solutions
- New Technologies & Innovation – Drive the recovery and development in the post-pandemic era.