Water Innovation Labs

Equipping Young Leaders to Tackle Water Challenges Across the Globe

Water Innovation Labs

Equipping Young Leaders to Tackle Water Challenges Across the Globe

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WILs to Date
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Young Leaders Trained
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Global Partners

What is WIL?

The Water Innovation Lab, known as WIL, is a front-running, immersive leadership training designed to accelerate collaborative innovation, fast-track global knowledge-sharing and devise new innovations that improve water security. WIL supports emerging leaders (18-35 yrs) to implement Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets connected to water both in their organisations and their projects. WIL develops future water leaders to think holistically, design innovatively, and communicate effectively across cultures.

Water is foundational to humanity and water security remains the globe’s single greatest challenge.

Why is WIL important?

As ‘water leading nations’ are increasingly working with ‘water challenged nations’ to increase water security globally, new opportunities and new gaps emerge. Paramount among these is the lack of skilled talent in both water leading and water challenge nations.


of new jobs will be in water challenged nations

McAffee predicts that by 2025 more than 500 million new jobs will be created; 90% of which will be in water challenged nations.


of desired occupation skill sets will change by 2020

Global Economic Forum notes that the entire global economy is undergoing a transformation so momentous that by 2020 more than 30% of the desired skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills not yet considered for the job today.


of occupations will no longer exist by 2030

The CBRE predicts that by 2030, a full 50% of occupations that exist today will no longer exist.

How changes of this magnitude will effect the water sector are not yet evident, but prevailing views are that in the future, economy and inventiveness will be markedly distinct from the present. Put simply, the future begins with ‘Co-‘:

co-llaboration, co-creation, co-growth.

WIL Videos

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What is unique about the WIL program?

WIL global experiences equip the next generation of young water researchers, policy-makers, and waterpreneurs with mindsets and skillsets to lead beyond 2020: collaboration, creativity, global-engagement, complex problem-solving, and impact-oriented thinking. Unique to WIL is:

  • a focus on young leaders and professionals (ages 18-35)
  • a groundbreaking cross-sector, cross-disciplinary approach for knowledge sharing
  • participatory, creative, boundary-pushing facilitation and leadership development processes
  • the use of unconventional, self-developmental and self-directed learning methods
  • the inclusion and valuing of diverse perspectives, approaches and knowledges: including but not limited to cultural, artistic, technological, scientific, socio-economic, indigenous, and traditional
  • a prioritization for collaborative innovations, holistic solutions, and engaged multinational networks

What does WIL offer?

Leadership and Skill Development 
WIL equips a new generation of water leaders with an unparalleled skill- and mind-set to imagine, steer, and create disruptive co-innovations that will tackle the world’s most complex water challenges and align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

New Water Ideas and Co-Innovation Creation
Through its unconventional, boundary-pushing, multi-disciplinary, multi-sector, learning environments and approaches, WIL stimulates creative thinking that results in the genesis of new water ideas and new co-innovations and provides implementation routes to ensure that creative output directly benefits individuals and communities with water challenges.

Water Appreciation and Community Centered-Learning
WIL produces a heightened understanding of specific challenges that urgently confront communities through the incorporation of traditional and indigenous knowledge sharing, learning experiences, and visits to communities seeking water solutions.

Knowledge Sharing, Network Expansion and Innovations Transfer
WIL creates a platform for the world’s most passionate young researchers, innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs, to join together with community practitioners, start-ups, global multi-nationals, policy makers, and cultural communicators, for the purposes of knowledge sharing, innovation transfer, and global cross-fertilization of ideas.

What is the WIL methodology?

WIL has a unique methodology that draws on a repertoire of facilitation tools and techniques from the Art of Hosting, Design Thinking, Systems Approach and Social/Artistic & Cooperative Games. Our co-innovation process ensures our participants do not arrive with a solution, seeking a problem. Rather, we invite participants to explore a variety of complex water problems presented in advance of a WIL, and then during the program by being on field tours curated to learn and sense through place-based learning. Participants then unpack the problem and its driving forces from a systems perspective, generate ideas to at various scales of influence, and agree on the most innovative solution to further develop. Co-innovation Projects that emerge out of WILs are eligible for seed grants and are supported for 9 months post WIL intensive training.

Featured Projects Showcase

WIL Outcome Reports

Partners Showcase

Since 2010, Waterlution has partnered with over 150 organizations, from all levels of government, large and mid-size companies, research institutes and universities, local utilities, consulting firms and community organizations.nThank you to these partners with whom we have worked together on Water Innovation Labs over the last few years, and ones that are active in 2019.

University of Alberta