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Published on: 04/04/2019

All systems go! was a unique symposium committed to identifying systems-based solutions to accelerate universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. Between 12 -14 March IRC and partners welcomed participants representing over 165 organisations and institutions from around the world for a lively learning event featuring skills-building workshops, interactive sessions, game shows among many other knowledge-sharing opportunities.

For more in-depth analysis on a particular session or some the topics covered, we invite you to read one of our many blogs on the symposium. Additionally, systems change leader and the keynote speaker for day 3, Katie Boswell, identified four emerging themes from All systems go! Read about the lessons she believes everyone can benefit from in their pursuit for systems change.

The symposium papers which inspired the session content are also available for download. Stay tuned for the presentations, session syntheses, video highlights and book!

We have created a landing page with links to all the available information and resources from the symposium here

See the symposium proceedings part 1 and Symposium proceedings part 2

We invite you to look back on All systems go! with us by watching this fun video:

 Briefly, here is what happened on each of the days:

Day 1: Discover and provoke

The main focus for the first day was to discover how holistic thinking can and has led to progress. The opening plenary set the scene on WASH systems change and what it entails, with IRC CEO Patrick Moriarty delivering his opening keynote on his and IRC's own systems journey. In support of this larger framework, subsequent sessions drew from all five thematic areas: sanitation and hygiene, safe and sustainable water, financing WASH, fragile states, and measuring and learning.

It was a day for learning about the latest innovations and provoking discussion around them: some sessions explored the economic and social case for robust WASH systems, identifying alternative sources finance, questioning the need for non-sewered sanitation, among many other topics.

Following the closing plenary, the day concluded on a festive note: celebrating 50 years of IRC with a birthday dinner.

View all the photos from Day 1.



2: Engage, create and collaborate

Strong partnerships are the thread that pull WASH systems together. Day two of All systems go! concentrated on looking beyond WASH—such as the health and education sectors—for opportunities to collaborate and unlock powerful solutions.

Throughout the day, participants explored how to use innovative tools and strategies to improve results and decrease inequalities—learning how to fail better along the way. The over 20-session-day continued with an exclusive evening event at the Peace Palace. At this historic location, Marriët Schuurman and Catarina de Albuquerque reiterated an important reminder of how our collective mission for universal access is not just about realising a public good, but a human right.

Meanwhile also in the city centre, other participants gathered for a special edition of Blue Drinks aimed at identifying ways to improve and maximise youth engagement in WASH.

View all the photos from Day 2.

Day 3: Deliver and do

The final day of the symposium was dedicated to positioning our discussions towards delivering action. Sessions featured a variety of enriching skills-building opportunities, on topics such as district-level collective action, theories of change, systems mapping, life-cycle costing and much more.

A powerhouse of inspirational speakers compelled participants to move beyond aspirations and towards a shared agenda. The day featured speeches by the Honorable Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Ghana's Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Catarina de Albuquerque, CEO of Sanitation and Water for All and Katie Boswell of New Philanthropy Capital.

Although the symposium may be over, All systems go! inspired the start of a renewed and strengthened commitment to dance with the system. Emboldened by our shared agenda and empowered with lasting systems-based solutions, let us continue our WASH systems strengthening journey and move forward as proud WASH systems nerds.

View all the photos from Day 3.



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