Bid Win Case Study: IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition 2022


By Kathy Nicolay, Leaders Circle Manager

Our Centre will host a record-breaking number of international conferences in 2018. Each will bring thousands of people from around the world to Toronto and leave a legacy of social and economic benefits for the city and region.

Did you know that to win an international conference bid, the participation of a representative from the Canadian member organization is required in 70 per cent of cases?

The Leaders Circle partners with these key top thinkers, innovators and researchers to secure international conference bids for Toronto.

Robert Haller, Executive Director of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) was instrumental in securing the 2022 International Water Association (IWA) World Water Congress & Exhibition for Toronto.

The CWWA is the professional association for those working in water treatment, wastewater treatment and storm water management. While its membership is at the corporate level, members act as lobbyists/advocates for the water sector in Ottawa and promote science-based legislation to provide safe drinking water to communities and to protect the environment.

KN: What was your role in bringing this congress/exhibition to Toronto? What inspired you to lead the bidding process? 

RH: The IWA moves its World Water Congress & Exhibition (WWCE) around the world and their rotation schedule only allows North America the opportunity to host every 12 years.  The chance to host the 2022 event had been on my radar, but to be truthful, I was not really paying attention to the timelines.  It was the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the Business Events Toronto team that identified the opportunity.

We immediately sought the approval of the Canadian National Committee to pursue this event for 2022 and I wrote and submitted the initial Letter of Interest.  I then chaired meetings with the Canadian Association for Water Quality (CAWQ) and worked with the Toronto conventions team to prepare the first proposal.  Our bid for Toronto made the shortlist and we were able to host a delegation from the IWA.  I was part of the welcoming party to show them Toronto, the facilities, hotels and off-site locations.  I also organized a luncheon as part of their site visit, inviting water professionals representing the many other water organizations, academics and private sector partners that were supporting this bid to host the world.

KN: Could you list the names of the organizations and individuals that put forward the Toronto bid?

RH: CWWA advocates, in partnership with the CAWQ researchers form the Canadian National Committee of the International Water Association who act as the governing member to represent Canada to the world.  The bid must come from a governing member.

KN: Who did you collaborate with to submit the bid?

RH: We could not have submitted this quality bid without the support (and often leadership) of Rahul Shah at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Farnaz Mirza of Business Events Toronto.

An important element of this bid was our ability to show we could draw delegates from the United States.  So it was critical that we gained the support of the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) – the two largest water and wastewater organizations in the United States.  Both provided video support for our final bid.

Here in Canada, we gained immediate support from partner associations including, Canadian Water Network (CWN), Ontario Water Works Association (OWWA), Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO), WaterTAP Ontario, Water Canada magazine, Environmental Science & Engineering magazine, and several Canadian universities and water research institutes.

We also received great support from the private sector and commitments from firms such a Trojan Technologies, Stantec and Primodal.

KN: What about support for the bid? Did you get support from municipal, provincial and/or federal government? Other institutes?

RH: The City of Toronto was an incredible supporter. We had full support of Toronto Water Management and an amazing video of support from the Mayor of Toronto.

We attained a great letter of support from the Premier of Ontario, the Right Honourable Kathleen Wynn and another from the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau.

Moving forward, we will expect support from Environment Canada, Health Canada and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Ontario.

Again, we received tremendous support from several Canadian universities as well as financial commitment to 2022.

KN: What are some of the topics to be covered at the congress?

RH: The conference shares the latest on the science and technologies of water treatment and wastewater treatment around the world.  These discussions will include protection of water resources, water efficiency and energy efficiency, infrastructure planning, maintenance and renewal, as well as utility management and sustainability.

This is a world congress and will address water issues on all continents from severe drought and access to safe water to flooding and severe storms – all factors of our planet’s changing climate.

KN: Why do you think it is important to hold this congress in Toronto? What does this mean for Canada?

RH: This is an incredible honour for Canada to host such a prestigious event.  I believe it solidifies our place at the international table and our full intention to be world leaders in water research and innovation.  We will be able to showcase innovative Canadian researchers and technology solution entrepreneurs.

KN: What impact will this congress have to your field in water and wastewater management?

RH: Water is the most incredible element of life.  Life on earth cannot exist without water.  The world is facing impending crisis if we do not address climate change and population challenges.  These will require international cooperation and the full knowledge sharing that is facilitated at an event such as this World Water Congress.

 KN:What is your estimate on attendee registration numbers?

RH: We have a minimal target of 3,000 delegates, but I am confident that we can rally the North American water community and exceed 4,000 delegates plus the exhibitors and sponsors.

We know we have a great city and region to draw delegates from around the world in August and are confident we can make this the most successful World Water Congress and Exhibition ever.

Kathy Nicolay partners with top thinkers, innovators and researchers to bring international meetings to Toronto. Through the combined expertise of its members, the Leaders Circle ensures Toronto continues to host significant international meetings.

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