For many compelling reasons, the public-facing sessions of the W12 Congress are being postponed from the original January date until May 18-19, 2020. 

With the extended involvement from financial institutions, which recognise the urgent need to promote private public partnerships (PPPs), several requests have been made to the organisers to delay the W12 Congress until May.
  The main reason for this is to further strengthen the opportunities and new developments that have emerged from the COP25 (climate change summit) that is currently taking place in Madrid.

The release of the Water and Sanitation Master Plan last week by the SA National Government, also supports holding the public sessions of the W12 Congress at a later date in order that the Congress’s content may be better integrated with the aims of the Water and Sanitation Master Plan. This is particularly pertinent when considering that water challenges – which Cape Town successfully managed when the City averted a Day Zero scenario in 2018 – are now being severely experienced in other parts of South Africa.

The Congress will now be held 18-19 May in Cape Town when Minister Lindiwe Sisulu will have the platform to disclose more information about how the national Water and Sanitation Master Plan, and the call for PPPs, could function.

While the organisers of the W12 Water Congress, SOS NPO, very much regret this delay, they believe the benefits of holding the Congress later in the year considerably outweigh the inconveniences of the change of plan.  Rene Frank, Chairman of W12 says: “In order to have the greatest impact, this decision to move parts of the event until later in the year is the right one.

“Our aim has always been to work with government, civil society and all stakeholders to create the framework for the first ‘Cities’ Best Practise Water Protocol’.  The interventions by national government in South Africa, and to be inclusive of more SA cities and regions, are essential for this to be a workable plan.  It is imperative that with our partners, such as UNESCO and the International Water Bank, we have ample time, following COP25, to better prepare for the Congress. 

“Because the W12 Congress is the first of its kind to globally to address these issues and unite the different stakeholders, it will have more impact if the W12 Congress public facing sessions are delayed in order to take account of all the interventions coming from COP25.  We are responding to specific and urgent requests from our partners and participants to change the date.    

“The SA national government will of course also need this time to work on securing the necessary partnerships and cooperation in order to effectively implement its Water and Sanitation Master Plan and a delay in the W12 Congress means these interventions may also be shared in the public facing sessions.”

The fact that so many important international cities are participating and that their delegation planning has taken longer than they had expected has also largely contributed to the decision to postpone W12.

Frank adds: “We are now busy engaging with all our stakeholders, to ensure the smooth transition of the public facing sessions to the new date, and we can only apologise for any inconvenience caused by this delay.  We hope everyone will understand the very good reasons why we have had to make this difficult decision.”

The new plan for the roll out of the W12 Congress is:

  • 27th – 28th January 2020 – Closed (private) sessions for the task team conveners and stakeholders to meet and continue work on the framework for the protocol as planned.  Their work and findings will be announced at a press conference on the 29th of January.
  • The protocol work will continue until the public sessions take place at W12 Congress on the 18th & 19th of May.  The protocol will then be discussed with the invited cities and international stakeholders.  The framework will be distributed to the cities beforehand, to give them a chance to comment, to engage with the results and to prepare their questions.
  • In the run-up to and while the civil/public sessions take place in May, W12 has organised for the world’s largest water installation to be exhibited in Cape Town from March until May 2020 (venue to be announced soon).  The Myah Pavilion World of Water installation is housed within four containers.  This massive and highly impressive installation will give people a clear insight into the world’s water crisis and, through interactive edutainment, will demonstrate how they can play their part in helping to preserve, save and manage water.

Further speaker and celebrity involvement will be announced on a bi-weekly basis.

Confirmed international organisations that are participating at W12 Congress include:

    • UNESCO
    • IDA (International Desalination Association)
    • IWB (International Water Bank)
    • SIWI (Stockholm Water Week)

Issued on behalf of W12 Congress organisers (EcoCiv, SOSNPO and UNESCO) by Wired Communications. 


  1. By 2050 almost two billion people living in cities will suffer water shortages, as the demand for water increases by up to 70% (Source:  World Bank). Extreme water stress can threaten national security and the bilateral need to work together, locally and internationally, to ensure the future of the world’s water is evident. 
  1. The W12 Congress is now being held 18-19 May 2020 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town South Africa.
  1. Keynote speaker Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to attend
  1. The original date for W12 was 29-31 January 2020.


For more information or any media related queries regarding W12 Congress, please contact Wired Communications on +27 (0)21 464 1144

Karey Evett

082 789 8932

Tammy Tinline
079 506 9811