Save Our Schools Non-Profit Organisation and the Cape Town and the Western Cape Convention Bureau, a division at Wesgro, has announced a first of its kind W12 Future of Water Conference, secured to take place in May 2019.
Stellenbosch, situated within the Western Cape, will be the first host destination and an “owner” of the Conference concept going forward. Scheduled to take place at M’Hudi Wine Estate, up to 1 500 delegates are expected to attend the 3-day conference creating an estimated economic impact of R12.8 million. All infrastructure for the conference will be built with assistance and participation from the community, creating much-needed job opportunities in the region.
“Never before have conferences of this nature been more important globally, with drought – as a consequence of climate change, becoming a global phenomenon. The conference will give us the platform to create new partnerships and facilitate possible investments into locally based businesses dealing with the water crisis and water-related technologies as we continue to build on our resilience as a province and emerge from the worst drought in over 100 years,” commented Wesgro CEO Tim Harris.
A key objective of the conference is to focus on the role of ordinary citizens, encouraging active citizenship – understanding the great responsibility citizen have in solving the climate crisis, without waiting for politicians, official organisations or governments to intervene.
Sharing and educating on best practice solutions based on experience picked up from the SOS team and partners in Cape Town from 2017/2018 crises will be a key feature at the conference, imparting insights and handing over a “Major City Best Practice Water Protocol” guide.
“The drought was never about a specific date, but about essential behavioural change, now and forever. W12 aims to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and the role all cities and citizens have to play in encouraging solutions in a water-scarce world,” commented Shelley Humphreys, Executive Director of SOSNPO – a main organizer of the event.
The topics to be covered include:
• Current situation of global climate change
• Impacts of climate change in Cape Town
• Mitigation and adaptation
• The importance of water in business and daily life – beyond the obvious
• Consequences of poor water quality or insufficient supply on business operations
• Renewable energy
• Green Economy
• What can citizens do? – create official specialist acknowledged library
Already attracting international attention, the Mayor of London has confirmed their interest in participating and co-hosting the second event for 2020 – with climate change activist, philanthropist and ex-Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, confirmed as the keynote speaker for the conference.
“Hosting this conference is an honour. It comes at a critical time in our history, where water as a vital resource is no longer a given fact. Water conservation is everyone’s business and it is only by working and exploring together that we will find solutions to address water conservation and sustainability. The economic impact of the conference is also welcome as will provide opportunities for the town and the province,” said Stellenbosch Executive Mayor, Gesie van Deventer.
Stellenbosch 360 CEO, Annemarie Ferns, added: “It is a fantastic opportunity to be selected as the host destination of the conference, contributing to economic growth, job creation and academic stimulus. M’Hudi is a highly regarded wine estate boasting exceptional facilities, we have no doubt they will play the perfect host for such an event. We embrace the announcement of this conference wholeheartedly, and look forward to welcoming the delegates to Stellenbosch.”
Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, concluded: “I ’m thrilled that we’ve secured the W12 Water Conference and congratulate the Convention Bureau team on this win for the destination. This conference is set to bring thought leaders engaged in the global conversation around resilience to our doorstep. We are not only a part of that conversation but playing a major role in it. With an estimated 1500 delegates and an economic impact of R12.8 million, we are also set to see a bump in tourism jobs and services, a major goal of the Western Cape Government.”