Based on the global framework, enormous challenges arise to close the ever-increasing gap between the available water supply on the one hand and the constantly growing demand for water on the other hand. Therefore, the development of innovative technologies will play an increasingly important role to ensure an adequate water supply in sufficient quantity and quality.
In order to discuss the issue 'future water technologies', 25 experts from research institutions, industrial companies and public authorities, mostly from Baden-Württemberg, came together. The aim of the workshop was to develop perspectives for the future of water technology and establish new cooperations.
A future workshop is characterized by a stringently organized, targeted procedure whose content is determined by the participants. For this purpose, the participants alternately work in plenary sessions and in small groups which are repeatedly reshuffled. Three phases are passed through: At first, criticisms on the current situation are collected and summarized (criticism phase). Subsequently, the participants develop future visions in which their ideas have been realized (utopia phase). In this phase, the participants 'travelled' to fictitious planets on which all water problems have been resolved. Afterwards, the most exciting ideas were turned into concrete approaches and discussed in terms of their implementation (realization phase).
In the last phase, 4 topics were focused: The first group discussed requirements on an innovation-friendly environment for new technologies. It was considered essential to have no 'hidden agenda' in research projects and to openly communicate 'failure'. The second group dealt with the recovery of substances from waste water as a requirement on future 'water resources centres'. The third group focused on centralized/decentralized systems. The last group discussed requirements on optimal and regionally adapted technologies.
The future workshop was moderated by Dr. Robert Gaßner, Preferable Futures (Büro für Zukunftsforschung und Zielbildung)
If you are interested in the results of the future workshop, please refer to Ulrike Scherer from the Coordination Office Water Research Network.
Origin of photos: photos above, from left to right: clarifier, desalination of sea water with membranes, pilot plant for the treatment of brackish water, close-up of granules (© Engler-Bunte-Institut, Water Chemistry and Water Technology);
photos within the text: photos of the future workshop at KIT on 18 July 2017 (© R. Gaßner).