Joint Singapore Int’l Water Week, Black & Veatch Event IDs Water Pressures Industry Must Solve Together

Policy pressures, innovation pressures and public pressures are three of today’s most challenging issues facing 110 of the world’s water leaders from more than 20 countries, according to a white paper recently released based on findings from a high-level “Water Pressures” workshop at Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) on July 6.

Organized in partnership with Black & Veatch as part of the SIWW Water Leaders Summit, 12 internationally renowned chairpersons led delegates through a total of about 25 rapid-fire conversations focused on these three types of pressures that the water sector is grappling with today. They reported that delegates are adapting to the three water pressures in a changing urban environment by:

•    Encouraging an innovation-friendly urban environment
•    Working collaboratively within broad frameworks
•    Engaging multiple stakeholders in setting policy
•    Pricing water to reflect its true value
•    Using pressure to drive necessary change
•    Walking the talk as leaders
•    Communicating clear messages about intertwined water issues

Titled “Water Pressures: How to Adapt and Lead in a Changing Urban Environment,” the workshop white paper noted several common themes that emerged during the conversations because of the interrelated nature of policy, innovation and public pressures. In all three pressure groups, pricing water to reflect its true value was considered a key cornerstone for success. Making sure that the full costs of water service are transparent to the public will help them be more accepting of rate increases for sound infrastructure investments.

Another common point was that innovation – not just in technology, but also in policy-making and community outreach – can help reduce costs, improve efficiency and drive new revenue streams. Setting a broad framework for innovation and allowing the private sector to determine the most cost-effective solution in each particular situation can benefit all stakeholders.

Participants also emphasized the importance of educating the public, particularly youth, on the importance of water. Consumers’ receptivity to that type of messaging shouldn’t be underestimated, and increased awareness is sustainable, so governments should take a more active role in communication.

“We learned that even today’s most challenging pressures for the world’s water leaders, whether they come from developing or developed nations, can be overcome by creating the political will for change,” said Dan McCarthy, President and CEO of Black & Veatch’s global water business, who moderated the event. “That takes strong partnership between policy makers, industry leaders and the public; but such collaboration is necessary to ensure a safe, reliable water supply for future generations.”

Summaries of the top-level results from all of the “Pressure Cooker” discussions are available on www.waterdialogue.com, the main thought-leadership site for Black & Veatch’s award-winning, global Water Dialogueseries.

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