By Beverley Ferrara
In response to COVID-19 challenges, The Water Council moved swiftly to leverage its relationships with its partners in government and the private sector to support its members. In Europe, we’re extending the same philosophy of meaningful connection across our international relationships as well — and even more so. Here are a few of our strategies for the coming months:
Like with any audience, it takes a long time to build trust and confidence, but it takes only a short time to lose it. What I’ve found in recent meetings is that my contacts are still open for business, even if it means working from home locations. If anything, people are making themselves more available than before.
The new normal of virtual communications is upon us, at least for the next few months, and perhaps longer. We’re making efforts to maintain being connected with our international partners via Zoom, which actually provides more, rather than fewer, opportunities to do so; just this week our international water community joined together to turn lockdown into laughter in a virtual pub quiz. Kudos to Andrew Walker for transferring his in-person facilitation skills to virtual ‘pub landlord’ and quizmaster.
What I haven’t found in my discussions is a sense of despair. Maybe it’s because our partners, like us, are working in a sector that is driven by the common good. Or because they are entrepreneurial in nature. But I sense a spirit of resilience. A desire to keep things moving forward. That while we don’t know all that lies on the other side of the current situation, what we’re experiencing is temporary.
Just before lockdown, I joined our partners Francisco Carrillo of WEDC (far right) and Sara Gabarron (second from left) of the Catalan Water Partnership in Girona with overseas member Joan Ibanez (far left) of SIGMA DAF. The virus will alter how we do things in the near term, but we look forward to collaborating and exploring new opportunities in the virtual world!
The current situation may actually enable us to do even more than we had planned, especially if we think creatively (another new normal). We’ve already done so with one important initiative: A Virtual Roadshow, currently in the works. It will allow us to meet with more people, in more places, in the most powerful way – through one-on-one conversations. And, while on certain occasions there is no substitute for meeting in person, it can be advantageous to have options. At least in this case, what was once a tradeoff has become a win-win.