The International Water Association (IWA) awarded its prestigious 2018 Global Water Award to our CEO, Professor Tony Wong. The biennial award recognises individuals who, through innovative leadership and practice, are driving change in water management.

Tony’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.

Tony’s 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.

Tony’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, Tony 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.”

Tony’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.

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

Last updated: 5th Sep 2018