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All systems connect

International Symposium for IRC

3 days
The Hague


International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) is a think-and-do tank. Their approach is transformational. It involves everyone, in every part of the process, thinking and acting in new ways to find long-term solutions to the global crisis in water, sanitation and hygiene services. As a change hub, they are in a unique position to unite people to drive and champion change from the ground up. IRC is registered as a foundation in the Netherlands and operates as an international NGO with country programmes across Asia, Africa and Latin America. The ‘All systems connect’ 2023 Symposium took place from 2-4 May 2023 in World Forum The Hague. The aim was to raise water, sanitation and hygiene up the political agenda, to ensure that governments, decision-makers and influencers act together, to ensure every home has taps and toilets, and every community has safe, resilient and continuous services.

By design

The symposium is an IRC flagship, bringing together high-quality knowledge and expertise, and providing a platform for presentation, discussion and an opportunity to strengthen personal and organisational relationships. Compared to the former edition of the symposium in 2019, the first challenge was to accommodate an increase of attendants (from 400 to 767!), showing that the topic of building sustainable systems has gained much more global awareness. We explored the consequences on budget, (social) programme, location and accommodations and took care of the process of registration. Post-COVID, people tend to postpone their registration to the last minute, making sure that their live attendance really matters. From an organisational perspective this asks for a new approach.


The whole set-up and programme was creative, interactive, and had lots of dynamics. Toilet Talks, Walls on Wheels, and last minute changes due to Zelensky’s speech in World Forum at the same time as the symposium. We had to take into account high security measures on one side and keeping our guests engaged and undistracted on the other side. We also had many VIPs and ministers from different countries attending, and made sure that flights, invitation letters and protocols were in order. The symposium might be over, but IRC continued. In their newsletter they wrote: “Over those three days we’ve grown as systems leaders. We’ve built connections, begun to dismantle silos, stepped into unknown territory and challenged ourselves. Let’s continue the momentum, taking actions and commitments back into our communities and workplaces to drive change and change lives.” As congress designers with a passion for scientific progress, we take that as a huge compliment.

Watch the highlights

IRC Scientific Professional Congress Organisers
IRC Scientific Professional Congress Organisers
IRC Scientific Professional Congress Organisers