Isobel Davidson (Australia)
Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, United Nations, Switzerland
Master of Integrated Water Management
Isobel initially studied Communications and International Studies. After graduation she wanted to gain more skills in order to make a larger contribution to community and development programs, so she took on a marketing and relationship-building role for an international professional services firm, then moved into the water sector in Geneva, Switzerland.
Growing up on a farm in south-west NSW, I learnt the value of water: showering in a bucket for re-use, the crucial role of water in the cropping cycle and the reliance of people and animals on water for survival. The past nine years of drought on our farm reinforced for me that water is one of, and arguably the, biggest challenges of Australia’s future. I am keen to be part of that future.
Currently, I am working for a global organisation based in Geneva that supports basic drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in developing countries: water, toilets and soap for handwashing. I have a background in communications and marketing, but I work with engineers, social scientists, health specialists and behaviour change professionals. I believe that water and sanitation management programs benefit greatly from a holistic and interdisciplinary approach, gathering data, understanding perspectives and enhancing communication between key stakeholders in order to have long-term impact.
I was attracted to the MIWM interdisciplinary program for the opportunity to broaden my current landscape of the water agenda, to learn more about the science of water and the technical aspects of water management. I am particularly looking forward to meeting and learning from new people from different backgrounds: students, academics, researchers and other professionals. I believe that future developments and breakthroughs in water and sanitation will be driven primarily through the combined insights and efforts of different disciplines, approaches and stakeholders and I believe that the IWC program catalyses this.
Previously I studied Communications and International Studies in Sydney, during which time I worked for a financial communications agency, a grain storage facility, lived in Bologna, Italy for a year of in-country study and designed and ran a development program aimed at combating childhood obesity in Australia. After graduation, I knew I needed more skills to make a larger contribution to the community and development programs I wanted to support and so I pursued an opportunity in a marketing and relationship-building role for an international professional services firm. Since relocating to Geneva, Switzerland, and for the past two and a half years, I have had the privilege of working in the water sector.
I am currently the Partnerships Coordinator at Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a global organisation hosted in the United Nations system that works to accelerate sustainable access to drinking water and basic sanitation in developing countries. WSSCC has a 20-year track record of uniting professionals, sharing good practice and advocating for increased awareness and action in these fields. In 2008, WSSCC established the Global Sanitation Fund, a financing mechanism to boost investment in people-centred demand-led approaches to basic sanitation and hygiene in developing countries. Because the number of people without sanitation is greater than those without water and the number of actors fewer, WSSCC currently concentrates most of its efforts on sanitation and hygiene. As the Partnerships Coordinator I am responsible for a wide portfolio of partnerships ranging from government, United Nations, NGO, academic and the private sector as well as relations with WSSCC’s donors.
I am passionate about water and sanitation services for communities who need it most, helping them to flourish socially, economically and health-wise. I aspire to making valuable contributions to water governance and policy design and implementation in Australia and progress in the global water agenda. I am particularly interested in the role of behaviour change as a driver of positive outcomes at the community level, as well as systematic links between water and agriculture, and water and gender.