CIWEM President’s Blog – November 2020

CIWEM President’s Blog – November 2020

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." John Muir

A very warm welcome …

Let me begin my first President’s blog by saying hello! It was wonderful that so many members were able to join us for the induction and hear our fascinating guests share their views during our fireside chat. If you weren’t able to catch the induction, you can access it here and find out a little more about my theme for the year and put a face – and voice – to my name!

It is my absolute honour to be the 34th President of CIWEM and, in case you may have been wondering, the 3rd woman to hold the role. CIWEM has been around for 125 years, occupying a range of guises but always with the same guiding principles and it’s wonderful to be part of an institution that has such a strong heritage but looks forward with optimism and determination.

For so many reasons and for so many of us, 2020 has been an extremely challenging and remarkable year. We move forward with a recognition of the uncertainty that these times have brought and contrast this with the new ways of working and connectedness that are for many of us, also now a feature of our daily lives. We’ve quite literally been inside our colleagues homes this year, often met family members and pets and certainly for me, that’s led to closer connections and more authenticity in the conversations and webinars I’ve been part of.

Everything is connected..

The circumstances we find ourselves in, wherever we are in the world, are, I hope, encapsulated by my President’s theme for this year which is ‘Everything is Connected’.I believe strongly that the uniqueness of CIWEM is found in the breadth of skills that our members hold. CIWEM is your home if you’re an engineer, a scientist, a water industry professional, an environmentalist and like me, a geographer. We stretch beyond a single discipline and as we connect with other professionals globally, the outcomes of our work will be stronger for that diversity of thought CIWEM members bring.

It’s going to be a slightly unusual year as President and I’m embracing all of the new opportunities that not being able to meet easily in person will bring. I want to amplify the voices of you, our members, and showcase your ideas and brilliant work across the globe. Being a member of a professional institution provides a route to connect you professionally to others tackling similar challenges to those that you face. I want to highlight the inter-connectedness of our sector, and the people within it and explore how taking a more systems-based approach to some of our biggest challenges might make a real difference.

What to expect…

We’ll be launching ‘Let’s Talk WEM’, the brand new CIWEM podcast and I’d love you to join me as we have in depth conversations with professionals working globally in our sectors. The podcast is an opportunity for you to hear some fascinating stories and hear the version that didn’t make it into the PowerPoint presentation at a conference!

I’m also championing diversity and inclusion across CIWEM, working with the Executive team and members to ensure we continue to grow and become an institution that reflects the communities that so much of our work serves. You’ll also be hearing in a future blog from two of our new Early Career Professional Trustee Board members, Sian Leake and Emily Shipton, sharing their reflections of life on a Board.

Whilst I might be physically in Leeds in the UK for a good part of this year, I’m looking forward to hearing from as many members as possible from around the world so get in touch if you’d like to chat. I’d love to know what you think about the podcast and this blog, you can reach me on

I’m going to leave you with some of your replies to a question we posed as we concluded the induction - What actions can we take together NOW as CIWEM members to meet the challenges of the climate and ecological emergency?

There’s some food for thought in your replies I’ve shared below and I’d encourage you to read the full list and add your own ideas by clicking here. We all have a role to play within both environmental and social systems, each of us is critical. These uncertain times provide a unique opportunity for us as CIWEM members to ensure we invest in a green future, make bold policy decisions and act decisively.

I look forward to meeting many of you over the coming year.

Niki Roach

CIWEM President 2020-21

“Engage the younger generations well. Sharing expertise within CIWEM. With social media and news on hand 24/7 young people are being bombarded with lots of info.” -Anonymous

“Collaborate with gardeners (that's half the UK) by engaging them in citizen science to understand water use in gardens and connectivity to the natural world” -Janet Manning – Royal Horticultural Society

“Finding a way to emphasise to the public that the effects of climate change are going to be at least as drastic as those of Covid-19 if we don't act now” -Neil W

“Learn about what this means not just at UK level, but what is happening across the world to help improve ecosystem and climate resilience at local and global scales” -Anonymous

“Putting time in to diagnosing systems, its connections & relationships before considering solutions to challenges. Too often we are solution (& assumption) led” - Claire Vintiner

“Lots of good ideas, all valid. It's time for positive promotion of deliverable solutions. Energy and water efficiency / driving a carbon neutral Agenda are key.” -Paul Seeley

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