“Meeting once a year is like Christmas Eve for us”

Five questions to Gabriela Suhoschi

Gabriela Suhoschi, World Water Week & Prizes, photo: SIWI

Gabriela Suhoschi, Director, World Water Week & Prizes, about the environmental impact of events, the power of personal meetings and the fatigue of working with uncertainties.

Timothy Aldrich, Trainee Communications, GCB: You’ve recently announced that next year’s World Water Week will be held as an entirely virtual event. This decision was surely influenced by the pandemic, but do you believe that virtual formats can also lead to more sustainable events - from an environmental, social and economic standpoint?
Gabriela Suhoschi: I guess everything has its pros and cons, just because it’s virtual it does not necessarily mean it’s all fine and dandy. I would say everything in moderation. From an environmental perspective the virtual platforms prevent us from traveling but at the same time we should look into what the environmental impact of all tech involved in virtual events is. Also, from social and financial standpoint, if we humans are not able to meet in person and connect with each other we might start seeing different kind of health issues or drop in business opportunities.

Christian Funk, Editor, tw tagungswirtschaft: The next World Water Week takes place purely virtually. Let us assume it will be a great success. Will the World Water Week 2022 then remain on the internet?
We believe in the power of personal meetings and face to face, natural interactions and connections between individuals, and we do look forward to providing the perfect mix of virtual and face-to-face in 2022, in a hybrid event. The digital part of the hybrid will provide more inclusivity to those not able to travel and this will bring diversity to our event. Diversity allows for everyone’s voice to be heard and the conversations will lead to improvement for water challenges everywhere.

Sina Goy, Content Manager, tw tagungswirtschaft Your event is planned purely digital. How do you intend to involve the audience in the event?
We are looking at different session formats, exploring different tools to allow more networking and social activities.

Martina Neunecker, Head of Communications, GCB: The decision to hold World Water Week 2021 as a virtual event was communicated almost exactly one year in advance. For what reasons did you decide so early on not to have a face-to-face event next year?
For us it was important to show leadership in this question and to engage our community early on. This will give us all time to plan and prepare for a digital event and to collaborate. Also, maybe a bit of fatigue of working with uncertainties, not knowing what will happened and how. Taking the decision allows us to plan forward together with everyone else involved.

Kerstin Wünsch, Editor-in-chief, tw tagungwirtschaft: The next World Water Week will be in a digital format. What will you miss most?
Oh we will certainly miss meeting everyone, we love our water family and meeting once a year is like Christmas Eve for us. We will miss the social activities, laughing together and learning from the informal conversations. The mix of people from 130 countries, the diversity is so energizing.

World Water Week is the leading annual event on global water issues, organized by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) since 1991. The Week attracts participants from more than 130 countries and consists of hundreds of different activities convened by leading international organizations on a broad array of water-related topics, ranging from food security and health, to agriculture, technology, biodiversity, and the climate crisis.