Why WaterComm?

Why WaterComm?

WaterComm – The Water Communication Consortium – is a unique global strategic communication firm with a dedicated focus on global water policy issues. We created WaterComm after our founding partners each spent more than a dozen years providing communication counsel to diverse international policy organizations in countries around the world, many of which worked on global water policy.  These water clients included multilateral organizations, national governments, think tanks, civil society, and the private sector.

We got to know these organizations, their leadership, the substance of various water issues, and the complex network of organizations working on global water policy, and we concluded that a clear, unmet demand exists for a highly specialized communication consultancy with a depth of knowledge on water policy and the ability to effectively engage water stakeholders across the globe. We created WaterComm as a way to marry this realization with our existing commitment to improving global water outcomes and our belief that effective global communication always lies at the strategic center of affecting policy and behavior change.

No other communication consultancy can match WaterComm’s deep, technical understanding of complex global and regional water policy issues and the seemingly disparate stakeholders that influence them. We combine this expertise with innovative and time-tested global communication techniques to raise the profile of our clients’ specific water messages, identify and leverage synergies between stakeholders, and implement programs that lead to real change.

Ian Larsen Portrait Photo | WaterComm

Ian Larsen

Ian Larsen is a Washington, DC-based communication and public affairs specialist with 20 years’ experience and a dedicated focus on global policy issues.  He has worked at the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, as a senior leadership team member at a high profile international think tank, in the US Congress, on US presidential campaigns, and as vice president of a global strategic communication firm dedicated to international development issues. He has worked on global water policy since 1998 with clients including multilateral organizations, academic institutions, national governments, research organizations, and civil society.

Sören Bauer Portrait Photo | WaterComm

Sören Bauer

Sören Bauer is a Vienna-based strategic communication and knowledge management consultant. He has over twelve years’ experience in water communication and has worked extensively on the water-energy-food nexus. Sören has worked in more than 20 countries on environmental communication assignments related to water and energy. He has supported the development and establishment of several successful brands, including the African Water Facility, the European Innovation Partnership on Water, and others. Sören is also an associate of the Knowledge Management Academy, WaterComm’s main partner in KM advisory and training services.

Sylvia Maina Portrait Photo | WaterComm

Sylvia Maina

Sylvia is WaterComm’s associate in Sub-Saharan Africa. She’s a Nairobi-based communications professional with specific strength in synthesizing complex information on varied topics. Sylvia has worked with a wide range of development organizations including the World Bank, GIZ, UNDP, DfID, the International Commission of Jurists, Kenya Shell, Nokia and advised public sector agencies such as Kenya’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission on communication projects. She has a flair for information architecture and repackaging technical information into a variety of user-friendly knowledge products for wide audiences.

Strategy Development

Trade Fair Stand Conversation Water | WaterComm

Communication activities in the water sector often lack sufficient analysis, consideration of diverse interests, and a strategic approach. What can and should communication do to help achieve objectives? What should the specific communication objectives of an organization, program or campaign be? What human and financial resources are available for communication and how can we use them in an efficient manner?

WaterComm develops short, innovative, and effective communication strategies for water-related challenges on all levels. Our strategies are based on analysis, decades of experience, and our ambition to add value with well thought-through communication activities and approaches. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can!

WaterComm associates have notable experience in developing water sector-specific as well as other communication strategies.

We are always interested in hearing about new water communication challenges. Write or call us. We can support your water challenge!

Change Communication

Demonstration Road Queue | WaterComm

Change. Many are afraid of it. People like to remain in their comfort zone, and doing things differently is not often on their agenda.

Significant change is needed and will happen in the water sector, whether we like it or not. Change on all levels – local, national, regional, global - can only happen if different stakeholders understand their each other's interests, listen to each other, and recognize that change is needed. Strategic communication approaches and thinking have a huge role to play when it comes to accompanying change and reform processes, be they political, social, environmental, or all of them together.

Reference Project

Water Waste Information Fair Stand | WaterComm

A Water Sector Reform. An increase in the price of water. Unreliable patterns of rain and drought.

These are just some examples of different kinds of change in the water sector. WaterComm associates have notable experience in developing change communication strategies and managing them. In 2013, Sören Bauer collaborating with GIZ and the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation (MWRI) to develop an internal communication strategy for the MWRI’s Institutional Reform Unit (IRU). The many communication barriers identified and to be overcome include lack of political will, an unclear mandate of the IRU and diverse interests of different stakeholders. The reform process is slowly on-going - we have learned and know that communication can contribute to making the necessary institutional changes happen, explain and advocate for them, and help build alliances – but only when the time is ripe for doing so ...

Campaign Development

Fair Stand Signature Wall | WaterComm

WaterComm develops and implements water-related campaigns, in countries, on continents and globally.

Through our well-thought through approaches, we work to ensure that your campaign is a success! We fine tune your efforts and build alliances to ensure your work will be a success.

Many elements come into play in making a campaign successful - thorough analysis of the issues to be addressed, a strong brand or campaign identity, and a clear focus among them.

Our decades of experience enable us to develop the best approach for you and design a distinctive and powerful water campaign.

Media Relations

WaterComm’s team brings more than 30 years’ experience working with journalists in developed and developing countries, ensuring that their clients’ messages on international development and other policy issues are carried in print, online, and over the airwaves in every corner of the globe. Simply put, we know what works and what doesn’t when working with international and domestic media in almost every part of the world, and we believe that designing a compelling, data-driven story is always at the heart of successful media relations for international policy organizations ad the private sector.

We design effective media relations strategies and campaigns. We would like to hear about your water story and position it in the global media.

Reference Project

Audience Conference | WaterComm

The news business. It’s changed a lot in the last decade. But one thing will never change – raising the profile of crucial international issues like global water policy will always require formulating substantive, hard-hitting, data-driven stories with significant news value.  When a story is presented in the right way, it generates extraordinary exposure in international, national, and local media alike. That exposure in turn will always reach a broader audience than any other communication product. A great, newsworthy story always resides at the center of WaterComm’s communication strategies, and all other communication channels – social and online media, stakeholder engagement, and others – are built around it.

WaterComm’s team has decades of experience working with journalists and placing their clients’ stories in high profile media outlets around the world. From The New York Times to The Straits Times of Singapore to The Irish Times to The Japan Times to El Tiempo of Mexico, our stories have been there.

WaterComm’s Ian Larsen has played an instrumental role in communicating global water policy issues in international media outlets for more than 15 years. Between 1998 and 2006, he worked with senior leaders at the World Bank, the World Water Council, the host countries of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th World Water Forums, and others to generate nearly non-stop global news coverage of key themes in international water policy. These stories regularly reached an audience of more than one billion people in print, online, and in broadcast. They were an essential part of making water a key development issue for the 21st Century, and they dramatically increased the number of participants in the World Water Forums they were designed to support. The organizers of the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto credited these stories with helping to bring more than 200,000 people to the event when they had expected only about 8000 participants.

Knowledge Management

Infographic Knowledge Management | WaterComm

Knowledge Management - KM - is a systematic approach to identifying, acquiring, capturing, transforming, developing, disseminating, using, sharing and preserving knowledge that is relevant for achieving the specific objectives of an organization.

The global water sector and many organizations working in it grapple with the concept and potential of KM. The need for and power of good KM and how it can make an organization’s work more efficient, is heavily underestimated and under-funded in the water sector.

WaterComm aims to integrate and use Knowledge Management techniques and approaches in its projects. We collaborate with the Vienna-based Knowledge Management Academy to drive the KM agenda in the water sector.

Reference Project

WaterComm associates have spearheaded and been involved in Knowledge Management for water with organizations such as the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) and others. In April 2014, Sören Bauer of WaterComm and Dr. Andreas Brandner CEO of the Vienna-based KM Academy, conducted an intense One Day KM workshop for the African Water Facility and the African Development Bank’s Water and Sanitation department OWAS. The workshop’s main recommendations included developing a roadmap with strategic water knowledge priorities and objectives as well as investing in and promoting water-related knowledge work.

Our Network

We collaborate with trusted partners in order to operate on a global level and in countries around the world. We know our comparative advantages – and we know what others can do better, faster or cheaper than us. Our network of trusted partners consists of individual experts and agencies with additional expertise.  Among them are:


26 August 2014

One-of-a-Kind International Communication and Strategy Agency Focused Exclusively on Global Water Policy To Debut at Stockholm World Water Week

Washington / Vienna / Nairobi / Stockholm: The Water Communication Consortium, a unique international policy communication and strategy agency with an exclusive focus on global water policy, will make its formal debut at Stockholm’s 2014 World Water Week, to be held August 31-September 5 in the Swedish capital. The Consortium, known as WaterComm, is believed to be the world’s only international policy communication and strategy agency with a 100 percent focus on this crucial sustainable development and security issue.

With offices in Washington, Vienna, and Nairobi, WaterComm addresses a clear, unmet demand among water policy organizations for communication strategies built around a deep understanding of complex water policy issues and the ability to effectively engage the disparate global water stakeholders that influence them. The firm provides innovative strategy, communication, branding, advocacy, knowledge management, risk and crisis communication, and public affairs services.

WaterComm was created in 2013 after founding partners Sören Bauer and Ian Larsen had each spent more than a dozen years providing communication counsel to diverse international policy organizations around the world, many of which worked on water. The firm has spent the year leading up to its debut quietly working with governments, foundations, and international research, policy, and advocacy organizations seeking to increase their influence in the global water policy debate.

“The more time Sören and I individually spent working on these issues with development banks, multilateral organizations, and governments, the more we noticed that despite having comparable depth of knowledge, some groups were exerting extraordinary influence in the international policy community while others had little influence whatsoever,” said Larsen. “The key difference was their approach to communication and stakeholder engagement. The groups that treated communication as a key driver of their strategy thrived, while those that treated communication as a peripheral support skill did not.”

Bauer and Larsen created WaterComm to marry this realization with their strong personal commitments to improving global water outcomes, their subject matter expertise on international water policy, their existing relationships with disparate global stakeholders, and their belief that effective global communication built around substantive, data-driven narratives always lies at the strategic center of affecting policy and behavior change. WaterComm also integrates knowledge management expertise, techniques and approaches in its advisory services, adding value to many organizations’ important work on water challenges and related sectors such as energy, food, and climate change.

“Organizations operating in this space have some of the world’s greatest water knowledge and data sets,” said Bauer. “There is no question that exceptional technical expertise is essential, but technical knowledge alone doesn’t drive policy dialogues, especially on a complex and cross-cutting issue like water, which is strongly related to food production, energy generation and others. Real change only happens when great knowledge is matched with effective communication and knowledge management techniques. These techniques enable planners to identify, formulate, and document development programs that allow for effective consultations that take into account stakeholder needs, attitudes and traditional knowledge. Last but not least, these techniques contribute to organizational learning and efficient knowledge sharing.”

Nairobi-based Sylvia Maina of WaterComm adds, "Robust communication approaches are essential to affect change at both the global and local level. Strategic communication plays an important role in promoting the uptake of innovative technologies and improved practices to ensure access to safe drinking water in Africa."

WaterComm’s partners are among the world’s most experienced and well-connected water communicators. They bring their subject matter expertise and their ability to navigate the complex water policy community to every project.

Contact: Ian Larsen
Tel: +1 703 929 2099
Email: ilarsen(at)watercommnet
Website: www.watercomm.net
Twitter: @H2OPolicyComms

Contact us


The Americas

Ian Larsen
Washington DC, USA
Tel. + 1 703 929 2099

Europe, Middle East & North Africa

Sören Bauer
Vienna, Austria
Tel. +43 664 530 7334

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sylvia Maina
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel. + 254 720 964 870