The University of Girona (UdG) and the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA) will organise next edition of International Conference on Ecotechnologies for Wastewater Treatment (EcoSTP). More than 400 experts within this field are expected to attend the event, which will take place from 26th to 30th June 2023.
The 6th EcoSTP will present the latest developments in ecotechnologies for urban and industrial wastewater treatment and reuse, while positioning Girona as an European hub on water research. Particularly, this EcoSTP edition will focus on boosting private-public collaboration and entrepreneurship, and facilitating the market update of the ecotechnologies presented. Thus, a whole session will be devoted to new start-up companies.
The conference will pay special attention to socioeconomic water issues. From both a multidisciplinary and multisectorial perspective, during five days, presentations, workshops, courses and round tables will address wastewater topics as different as nutrient recovery, digitalisation, social perception of water reuse, or wastewater and pandemics.
Girona, a research hub on wastewater treatment
The driving forces behind this initiative are Ignasi Rodriguez-Roda, Full Professor of Chemical Engineering at UdG and member of LEQUIA research group, and Maite Pijuan, Head of the Area of Technologies and Evaluation (TiA) at Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA). Both of them represent research groups and institutions renowned for their backgroung in wastewater treatments. Thus, this strategic alliance strengths Girona as the headquarter of next EcoSTP edition. In accordance with an article published recently on prestigious journal Chemosphere, UdG and ICRA are among the top 10 European research institutions with more scientific publications in wastewater treatment.
The conference will get the support of UdG Campus Water, an UdG relational platform to facilitate the relationship between companies and institutions within the water sector and UdG. According to Ignasi Rodriguez-Roda, “the relevance of the water sector in Girona is not restricted to the academic field”. Catalan Water Partnership (CWP) is one of the most relevant business associations of the water sector and it is based in Girona. Moreover, organisations like Consorci Costa Brava, Trargia or Aigües de Girona, Salt i Sarrià de Ter have carried out highly innovative projects.
The conference organisers justify why the celebration will take place in Girona and in Catalonia, where water plays a relevant role: “Besides the Catalan Water Agency (ACA), in Catalonia we find many companies and research groups in other universities and technological centres well known for their activity within the water field”, explains Maite Pijuan.
Back to face-to-face meetings
Last edition of EcoSTP was held in June 2021. Organised by the Poytechnical University of Milan, it brought together more than 300 experts, which had to interact through a virtual platform due to Covid-19 pandemic. Since its inception, four different cities in Europe and North America have hosted the conference: Santiago de Compostela (Spain), Verona (Italy), Cambridge (UK) and London (Canada). Now, Girona takes the leap driven by two UdG and ICRA research groups. The organisers expect that “going back to face-to-face will be a good revulsive to increase the attendance and convert Girona into the worldwide capital of wastewater treatment during five days”.
“Water sector has faced up different kinds of challenges throughout the XXI century, which are becoming complex due to climate change: stricter legislation thresholds, draughts and flooding events, increasing demand, etc. The response to such challenges is developing innovative, sustainable and smart technological solutions, by means of research and innovation”, says Ignasi Rodríguez-Roda. However, according to Maite Pijuan, “it is not always easy for RDI results to get introduced into the market” and “it is increasingly evident that water, as other essential services, cannot be decoupled from its social, economic and political context”.
A young conference
The first edition of the International Conference on Ecotechnologies for Wastewater Treatment took place in 2012. A group of scientists of European network Action COST Water 2020, led by Professor Juan Lema of University of Santiago de Compostela, detected the need to create a scientific event to present environmentally friendly wastewater technologies. Since then, scientific concern about climate change, resource depletion or water pollution has never stopped growing, in alignment with the increase of attendance to successive EcoSTP editions.