World Water Week assembles over 500 co-convening organizations and 4,000 participants from more than 130 countries in Stockholm every year. This world-leading conference on water is now cancelled due to the global spread of COVID-19 and the measures taken by national and local authorities to contain the spread of the disease. World Water Week was due to take place 23-28 August 2020 in Stockholm.
World Water Week is organized by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and has been held annually since 1991. However, the organization has decided to cancel this year's conference after closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 around the world. Given that the COVID-19 outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), holding a major event like World Water Week would pose a critical threat to the health of visitors and would result in an unacceptable risk of spreading the disease.
The decision was taken formally by the Board on March 31. SIWI's Executive Director, Torgny Holmgren, states: "We are, as always, committed to serving our community in the best possible way. Organizing the world's leading conference on water comes with big investments in time and money for everyone involved. We believe that an early decision is better than a wait-and-see-approach – for everyone."
Gabriela Suhoschi, Director for World Water Week & Prizes, says: "We truly appreciate the support and commitment from our community towards World Water Week 2020 and this year's theme 'Water and Climate change: Accelerating Action'. We are considering how we can incorporate the content developed for this year into World Water Week 2021."
In addition to hundreds of sessions, a recurring highlight of World Water Week is the presentation of the world's most prestigious water award, the Stockholm Water Prize, during a royal prize ceremony. As recently announced, the 2020 award goes to Dr John Cherry for discoveries that have revolutionized our understanding of groundwater vulnerability. SIWI is now exploring how Dr John Cherry will be celebrated at World Water Week 2021.
World Water Week is also the stage for the finals of the international competition, Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2020. Communication about how the finals are to be organized will be released in due course.