The 2018 International Water Association (IWA) Global Water Award has been awarded to an Australian CEO for his influential work in water sensitive urban design.

Professor Tony Wong, CEO of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, will be awarded the 2018 IWA Global Water Award for his lifetime research on water sensitive urban design. The IWA Global Water Award recognises the exceptional role he has fulfilled in working for over 30 years in the important field of urban water bridging gaps between sectors and working on integrated interdisciplinarity.

In his work and research, he has embraced and built his work on the sectors from the social to the technical, from engineering innovations to nature-based solution and used urban design as the integrative platform.

The IWA Award committee composed of world experts in the water sector justifies its choice because in his future projects, Professor Wong continues to put humans at the centre of urban development. He concentrates on continuing his research on urban development, aiming to attain the urban design, urban water systems, and associated institutions and governance structures needed to advance traditional approaches towards creating more sustainable, resilient and liveable urban communities.

The prize will be presented by Diane D’Arras, the President of the International Water Association,  at the opening ceremony of the IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition, at Tokyo Big Sight Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Professor Wong’s pioneering program of work—the water sensitive cities approach—uses a unique socio-technical approach to concurrently address the social, environmental and economic challenges of traditional urban water management. It advanced new understandings of the relationship between the societal and biophysical dimensions of water security and city waterscapes, enabling solutions underpinned by creative design, and technical and scientific rigour for delivering sustainable urban water outcomes.

“I am very honoured to have worked with my colleagues in helping define the organising framework and solution space to address some of today’s most urgent global water challenges,” Professor Wong said.

His early work on water sensitive urban design (WSUD) created a platform for exerting a positive, transformative influence on the nature of cities, and the health and wellbeing of their citizens. His WSUD approach is now globally diffused, and his subsequent reimagining of WSUD within the water sensitive cities approach has been mainstreamed across Australia and increasingly, among developing nations.

Professor Wong’s influence takes tangible shape in the transformations of multiple global cities, and in initiatives that leverage water to change the lives of the millions of people who live in urban slums. Singapore, for example, applied the water sensitive cities approach to create a more self-reliant water supply, including by harnessing stormwater as a valuable resource. Similarly, the City of Kunshan has achieved a level of sustainability, resilience and liveability that is unprecedented in China.

“We are very proud of Tony’s enormous contribution to the global water community, and we congratulate him on this well deserved award,” said Cheryl Batagol, Chairman of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities.

“This award recognises Tony’s determination and vision to create the water sensitive cities approach to help overcome the obstacles we face in an increasingly urbanised world that is also tackling the effects of climate change.”

Of the award, Professor Wong’s said it “recognises the significance of such collaboration over the past 30 years on an integrated cross-disciplinary approach: from the social to the technical, from engineering innovations to nature-based solutions, and in using urban design as the integrative platform.

“Genuine collaboration holds the key, and I wish to acknowledge some of my most significant collaborators—Dr Peter Breen, Professor Rebekah Brown and Professor Ana Deletic.

“I hope the IWA award will give this approach greater impetus for its widespread global adoption.”

Professor Wong’s efforts and those of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities will continue to have profound impacts in enabling developing cities to attain the urban design, urban water system, and associated institutions and governance structure to ‘leapfrog’ traditional approaches towards more sustainable, resilient and liveable urban communities.

Professor Wong will receive his award on 16 September at the Opening Ceremony of the IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition in Tokyo.

Elisa is an experienced industry journalist and is a regular contributor to a range of energy and infrastructure titles. She has a unique knack for quickly finding the angle in any story her audience is most interested in learning more about.

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