Plenary Session

Resilient Water and Sanitation Services on a Finite Planet

Monday, 22 May 2023
11:00 — 12:00
Plenary Room
GWOPA is the Convener for the session.

The Congress opening plenary focuses on this forum’s core theme: Resilience in challenging times. The session will gather global experts and utility professionals to discuss how to continue to deliver and improve their services in these contexts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Services provided by water and sanitation utilities are vital to ensuring community health and well-being. Yet global forces—climatic, financial, health, the energy crisis, along with rapid urbanization—are testing utilities’ ability to maintain services, adapt to new conditions, and recover from disruptions. 

As temperatures and sea levels rise, and extreme weather events become more common, utilities everywhere need to prepare. Ecosystems—relied on by utilities for their multitude of services—are declining, and many utilities are now having to pay high costs to replace the invaluable work of forests and wetlands in sourcing, purifying, and treating water that has become less reliable. Many utilities are also needing to adapt to conflict, where basic services and infrastructure can be casualties—if not direct targets—of warfare. Inflation and high energy prices are taking further tolls on often already financially precarious utilities. 

In a finite world, resilience requires working within planetary boundaries which have been ignored for too long. Water and sanitation services need to review their role in addressing biodiversity loss, chemical pollution, ocean acidification, and climate change. Resiliency is when someone adopts approaches, techniques, and infrastructure that mitigate their negative impact on a fragile planet.

This session will discuss how water and sanitation operators embrace resilience in their day-to-day work and long-term planning. Speakers will share experiences and lessons on how they have built resilience to keep their services robust and inclusive, despite the climatic, financial, and social stresses on their systems. The session will draw attention to the urgency of climate adaptation and mitigation in all utility operations and illustrate how utilities can partner to build resilience through peer support networks.


Keynote Speaker

Ms. Andrea Meza Murillo

UNCCD Deputy Executive Secretary



Dr. Adriaan Mels

Regional Director at Vitens Evides International



Mr. Mohammad Said Al Hmaidi

CEO of the Water Sector Regulatory Council, Palestine


Ms. Hadi Touré

Water Engineer, SOMAGEP SA , Mali

Hadi Toure has a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Central Florida. In Mali, where she is from, she has been working for almost 5 years as a project coordinator for the WOP between World Waternet and SOMAGEP SA, the Drinking Water Utility. Recently, she has been selected as a YOUTH ACTION FOR SDG6 fellow by the International Water Association and Grundfos and also won the first Connect Award of the All Systems Connect Symposium by IRC WASH.


Dr. Franziska Meinzinger

Director, Infrastructure Development, Hamburg Wasser

Civil engineer by profession studies in Germany, South Africa and New Zealand (if interesting). Joined Hamburg Wasser in 2010. he public utility for water and wastewater service provision of the city of Hamburg with about 2 million inhabitants. Second largest town and one of the largest public utilities in Germany. Director Infrastructure Development and member of the executive committee. Responsible for strategic aspects in infrastructure development with particular focus on asset management, climate adaptation (such as stormwater


Mr. Animesh Kumar

UNDRR Head, UNDRR Office in Bonn

Dr Animesh Kumar is the Head of the UNDRR Office in Bonn and leads the portfolio on climate action, data, and monitoring of the Sendai Framework and SDGs. Prior to this position, Animesh worked as the Deputy Head of UNDRR Regional Offices in Africa and Asia-Pacific, and in other UN agencies.


Mr. Youssef Nassef

Director of Adaptation division, UNFCCC

— Session Programme