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On Thursday we’re bringing together some great speakers to highlight the role IT can play in helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation, set ten years ago. These are the timelines we’ve been working to since Akvo was first conceived – how to reduce by half the estimated 1.1 billion who lack access to clean water, and how to cut the 2.2 billion who have inadequate sanitation.

The occasion is the World Congress on Information Technology 2010, held in Amsterdam. Unlike more laid back internet-oriented events, this congress is a suited-and-booted tech event that explores the progressive use of IT in business and government.

Our session runs on the morning of Thursday 27 May from 9-10:30am and is titled “Can ICT speed up the realization of the MDGs?”. It will be chaired by András Szöllösi-Nagy of UNESCO-IHE. Until we moved early last year to the Hague, Akvo was based on the UNESCO-IHE campus in Delft – a great environment for a web startup in the water sector to get access to the people needed to get our product just right.

Akvo founder and chief technology officer Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson will set out the Akvo story. He’ll explain what happens when government backs an open source, cloud computing platform and encourages its suppliers to use it – in our case development NGOs. We’ll explain how Akvo has achieved considerable momentum in just two years, assembling close to 200 partners and helping reform the development aid sector by melding thinking from the internet sector with people in the water sector who wanted to achieve big change.

Sunita Nadhamuni, CEO of Arghyam will also be on stage. She’ll be explaining how her unique Indian team has focused on knowledge sharing across Indian water and sanitation practitioners using its government-backed Indian Water Portal. Sunita has just joined Akvo’s board and is an expert on enlightened intervention into projects led by other organisations. Arghyam champions best-fit “appropriate” technologies and devises ways to get these adopted, fast.

We’ll also be joined by Catherine Geanuracos, the Los Angeles-based general manager of Live Earth. Catherine will describe how the media and entertainment industries are adapting to the opportunities now possible, mobilising Hollywood celebrities, their fans, and connecting them to the real-life action heroes – the people who work on development projects in communities around the world.

The link to the main WCIT2010 website is here. Our session page is here.

I’d really like to thank Frodo van Oostveen, who has put the whole session together.

Mark Charmer is a co-founder of Akvo. Photo thanks to @luukdiphoorn