The 2nd Biennial University of Oklahoma Water Technologies for Emerging Regions Conference was held October 24-26, 2011. The conference theme, “Synergy at the Interface: Integrating Technology, Social Entrepreneurship and Behavior Change,” was designed to bring together participants from multiple disciplines responding to the UN Millennium Development Goals of bringing water and sanitation to emerging regions and to allow participants a forum for sharing experience and discussing challenges and solutions.
Over 200 water and sanitation experts from academia, industry, NGOs, governments and foundations representing more than 35 countries, converged in Norman, Okla. for the event. The conference included contributed oral and poster presentations addressing the full suite of water related topics, such as social entrepreneurship, behavior change, water technologies, climate change, and hydro-philanthropy in the developing world; six keynote talks from leading water, sanitation and health (WASH) professionals; an educational Clean Water Poster Contest for local school children; and two half-day workshops on social entrepreneurship and pump, well, water treatment and latrine technologies. The highlight of the conference was the awarding of the 2011 OU International Water Prize to Mr. Ben Fawcett from the University of Queensland, Australia, co-author of the milestone book The Last Taboo: Opening the Door on the Global Sanitation Crisis.
Conference attendees responded positively to the conference’s emphasis on applied research, especially the number of presentations based on in-country research, and attention to both the cultural and scientific aspects of water and sanitation issues.