Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) researchers and Texas A&M University faculty and students participated in the XVI World Water Congress, hosted by the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) and held in Cancun, Mexico, May 29-June 3.
Gabriel Eckstein, Texas A&M School of Law professor, was chair for the conference, which focused on bridging science and policy and drew over 1,000 attendees from more than 95 countries and numerous organizations.
The congress covered a diverse set of topics such as integrated water resources management (IWRM), science-based policy and water governance, among many others.
The congress also showcased emerging themes including the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus and transboundary water sharing. Dr. Rabi Mohtar, TEES endowed professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M, presented a high-level panel on the significance of the WEF nexus as an inviting and non-exclusive concept for the water community.
Led by Director Dr. John C. Tracy and Deputy Director Dr. Kevin Wagner, members of the TWRI team also presented and led discussions. TWRI Research Scientist Dr. Rosario Sanchez-Flores presented on transboundary aquifer sharing in an all-day special session on transboundary waters in North America. TWRI research scientist Dr. Lucas Gregory discussed water quality standards across hydrological extremes, and Amy Uyen Truong, TWRI research assistant, presented on urban water conservation and drought management using integrative irrigation techniques.
Among the dialogues, there was a focus on the need to incorporate IWRM concepts into the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Other discussions covered the challenges and opportunities to apply international water law on the domestic level for transboundary water negotiation and cooperation. Many of the experts agreed that the business-as-usual approach to water development would no longer suffice and that policy-makers and scientists are now tasked with developing a framework for a sustainable future.
All attendees were encouraged to participate in drafting the Cancun Declaration, a statement and path forward for the congress. According to conference organizers, the declaration is a call to action to bridge science and policy and signifies the commitment of the international water community toward a sustainable future in water development.
Additionally, multiple students from the Texas A&M Water Management and Hydrological Sciencesprogram and Texas A&M School of Law served as rapporteurs for the congress. The diverse group had representatives from IWRA, Germany, Turkey, Canada and France and were tasked with attending and summarizing sessions for the daily newsletters and the forthcoming Congress Report Proceedings.
With 44 faculty and student participants, The Texas A&M University System was well represented at the congress and in the international community.