In light of the upcoming Water Innovation Lab (WIL) 2013, designed and co-hosted by Waterlution, organization co-founder and executive director, Karen Kun sets the stage for their novel approach to water challenges.
It all begins, offers the social entrepreneur, with a question posed by colleague, Graham Daborn, a resource guest at WIL: “How can we enhance the capacity of communities to take ownership of their water problems?”
Water is a vital element, sometimes hidden, that allows us to function – we need to bring this to light so more people understand the critical connection. The numerous water-related disasters that have happened worldwide in 2013 alone indicate that we are at a significant juncture. Water is a resource that touches us all, whether it be through the need for clean water, the infrastructure we rely on, the food-water-energy nexus, water to support industry and a thriving economy, or the ecosystem functions we rely on to support human activities.
In a recent article for the Huffington Post, John Pomeroy a resource guest at the Water Innovation Lab (WIL) 2013, warns of more flood events as climate change models predict heavier rainfall events.
With that in mind, and referring to the above statement by Graham Daborn, how we develop resilient communities is crucial to how they can adapt to a changing climate with more severe precipitation events, periods of prolonged drought and increased water scarcity.
What is Waterlution’s approach to these significant water challenges?
To design and co-host the Water Innovation Lab (WIL) 2013 with the Canadian Water Network and through partnerships (City of Calgary, Startup Calgary), we are offering a space for creative and innovative thinking so that ideas can be moved into relevant action.
There is a significant opportunity through technology and social enterprise to get more people connected to water and to understand the life-giving nature of water. Technology is not the answer, but is a way to connect those not yet thinking about the roles of water in our lives. WIL 2013 will be a space to explore and test the potential of technology and other ideas.Glaciers, Mountain Ecosystems, and Valuing Water In Nature – at the Canadian Water Innovation Lab 2010
There is so much good work happening in the water space, yet few entrepreneurs have embraced the need for their talents to respond to the societal and behavioural change needed around water. We hope WIL 2013 will be an opportunity to connect the two spaces of technology and social entrepreneurship for water, given the tremendous potential that arises when they work together.
WIL 2013 will support changemakers with start-up skills and facilitation capacities, while creating a space for collaboration between these motivated and committed players. At WIL 2013 there will be two streams for participants to engage in and develop their expertise:
1. Bootcamp Water Projects:
Participants bring a pitch for a water project and receive invaluable feedback from resource guests and their peers. Those who do not have a project take part in the peer-to-peer feedback process, while learning critical skills to help move any early-stage ideas into action.
2. Strategic Conversations in Water Work:
Participants learn how to enhance their water work with a deep dive into what it takes to facilitate conversations and dialogues that inspire and trigger action. Here we explore why dialogue is important for water issues, what tools help the design of effective dialogues and how to put into practice these methods for participatory dialogue and meaning-making.
WIL 2013 is not another conference with panel discussions and a one-way flow of information. Rather, WIL 2013 is a unique opportunity for participants to directly engage with the challenges, interact with diverse stakeholders, form partnerships and develop strategies and potential solutions to pressing water concerns. Waterlution and WIL 2013 challenge our dependency on the status quo and on “experts” for all the solutions.
Resource guests at Waterlution programs come to mentor, provide insight and provoke participants, yet leave with new perspective and knowledge gained from participants. WIL 2013 will create a space of openness to foster innovative thinking and collaboration to tap into the vast knowledge, experience and creativity that community members hold to respond to the complex challenges.
Want more information? Check out the WIL 2013 website:Yukon River in Transition: Water & Climate Change in Southern Yukon, Future of Water Workshop
What is unique about Waterlution?
Waterlution is an organization that works across Canada. It facilitates multi-stakeholder dialogue using process and content to engage young leaders, organizations, businesses and communities in the exploration of creative management solutions that respect water and the broader ecosystem. Our programs aim to awaken and foster a growing culture of inclusiveness and respect in Canada across all sectors and cultures that is anchored in a deep admiration for water.
Waterlution gatherings are about bringing together passionate leaders who are interested in water (not necessarily all are water “experts” – diversity of knowledge is welcomed to encourage creative approaches). Waterlution is concerned about the human-water relationship, how it is understood and experienced. Our programs are designed around relevant topics and new ways of learning.
We break down silos by pulling people out from their comfort zones, labs, desks, screens and data sets to meaningfully connect to share their expertise and experiences with the larger community. Waterlution programs also have a hidden curriculum that cultivates leadership development, knowledge sharing, collaborative learning, critical thinking and opportunities for personal growth. It is through these connections and experiences that innovative partnerships, creative solutions and ultimately positive change occur.
For more info visit: Waterlution
Executive Director and co-founder, Karen Kun founded Waterlution 10 years ago with the purpose of inspiring pattern-making and pattern breaking change toward a healthier relationship with our water. Karen aims to push Waterlution’s capacity to be more creative and innovative and to inspire others to be the leaders and mentors they are capable of being.