Thirteen members of Mercy Corps representing five country programs, the United States and Scotland gathered in Stockholm last week to attend sessions and network with leading governmental representatives, private agencies, and non-governmental organizations working on issues related to water. It was a very busy week with intra-Mercy Corps meetings fitted around the edges of conference sessions (not mentioning the obligatory exploration of a city many of us had never been to!).
Half of the Mercy Corps staff (including project managers from China, Tajikistan, Indonesia and Nepal) was there for a day-long launch meeting for the ITT (soon to be renamed Xylem) Watermark- funded Disaster Risk Reduction Initiatives in Water (for which we’ve developed our own oxymoronic acronym, DRRI Water). These projects are implementing resilience building and hazard-mitigating activities in communities that are particularly vulnerable to water-related hazards.
The day began with a presentation on innovation in the private sector by Keith Teichmann, the VP of Marketing at Xylem and a brainstorming session on how this process could apply to innovation in the field. In the afternoon, each of the project managers shared their projects with one another. We had a lively discussion around each project, full of questions and individual challenges issued and met with suggestions from others’ experiences.
The launch, especially within the larger context of a conference dedicated to water issues, was an amazing opportunity to learn from and get to know staff I’ve been corresponding with by emails for months, but have never met in person. It was amazing to have a Mercy Corps community away from Portland headquarters — and even more so, one immersed in a temporary community of 2,500 people, all in Stockholm to discuss the future of water in our world.