If you’re attending next week’s Stockholm World Water Week, we’d love you to join our debate on Tuesday 14 August.

“Can a Wikipedia of Water quicken the pace of development?” is the question that will be posed by Financial Times environment correspondent Fiona Harvey. Starting at 12:15, the session takes place in Room 503-4 in the Folkets Hus building and is open to any registered delegate. Lunch is on us.

Here’s the question in full:

The water sector has struggled to pool its collective knowledge to share with the communities we support. Yet are ‘open source’ projects like Wikipedia a blueprint for a new culture of collaboration in water? Could such a community build better tools and share more knowledge? Is a global, open information repository for water and sanitation an achievable and useful goal? Is open source a lot of hype or the next engine for development?

We’re keen to encourage a frank and full debate, drawing on everyone’s extensive experience of how real life works out. So do come along, and don’t be shy about saying what you think.

Some issues we’re hoping to explore in more detail are:

  • How can the participation at a community level be organised and how is this nature of the participation changing?
  • How can you engage the endusers and people who want to contribute to solutions that feel disenfranchised from the process today?
  • Can (or indeed should) open knowledge, financing and collaboration tools reduce risk and improve transparency for funders?
  • What reassures or scares away investors?
  • What are peoples experiences about the barriers that small-scale local project initiatives currently face, and how can they be overcome?

We are promoting the session by email, and will be at the conference handing out flyers. If there’s anyone in particular you would suggest we ask along, please do make suggestions. We are keen to bring together as many influencers and interested parties as possible.

Following the debate, on the evening of the 14th August, The Netherlands Water Partnership will host an informal evening discussion over drinks in the bar Duvel Café, Vasagaten 50 – near to the World Water Week venue. This will take place from 18:00 until 21:00, and we’d like to take this opportunity to invite you along. The café’s website, and a map can be found here.

Here’s a snapshot of the panel members:

(Moderator) Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent, Financial Times

Fiona Harvey was appointed Environment Correspondent for the Financial Times in September 2004. She covers all environmental issues, including climate change, waste, renewable energy, water, agriculture, fisheries, pollution and environmental regulation.

Fiona edited a major FT supplement on water in March 2007. You can find it here (subscription may be required).

Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson, founder of Akvo

Thomas formed Akvo in 2006, with the mission to inspire a global open source knowledge and collaboration platform for the water sector. A serial entrepreneur, Thomas was a pioneer in implementing internet web technology in corporate environments during the mid-nineties. He is a computer software and environmental scientist, who began developing software ventures in the UK and California, working closely with many of the pioneers of early-wave internet companies such as Yahoo!.

Jeroen van der Sommen, managing director of Netherlands Water Partnership

Jeroen van der Sommen is the Managing Director of Netherlands Water Partnership, an umbrella organisation for all water interests in the Netherlands, with 130 member organisations. He has extensive international water project experience in both developing countries and Europe. Jeroen holds an MSc. in Hydrology from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Catherine Schmitz De Fernández, vice president of Business Development, WaterHealth International.

WHI’s unique and creative combination of break-through technology and innovative business models enables the delivery of highly affordable, clean water to even the most remote, low-income rural communities. Ms. Schmitz de Fernández brings extensive international business experience to her work at WaterHealth, having lived, worked, and studied in Japan, Hong Kong, and France.

Madhab Nayak, director, Fountain of Development Research and Action (FODRA), Delhi, India

You can find out more about FODRA in our related blog post here.

See you there.