AIWW Aquatech 2015: Opening ceremony marks tremendous global water challenges ahead
A straight introduction by executive director Ger Bergkamp of the International Water Association started the festive opening ceremony of the 3rd Amsterdam International Water Week on 2 November.
The Amsterdam International Water Week takes place from 1 till 6 November and includes the Aquatech Amsterdam trade exhibition and a two-day international conference.
Passionate water professionals
Without much ado, Bergkamp reached directly to the heart of the tremendous global water challenges ahead. He reminded the gathered water professionals of the historic moment in New York last September when 193 UN member states adopted the new Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
Bergkamp specifically mentioned the water goal nr.6 that aims to half the discharge of untreated waste water. He noticed that the global water community is passionate about taking up this challenge.
“But it’s a huge challenge”, he added, “as it means that every day the waste water treatment capacity has to be increased by half a million inhabitant equivalent. Every single day from now till 2030.”
"The water sector cannot achieve this global water goal on its own", Bergkamp warned. "Resolving the water challenges without finance does not work”, he pointed out.
When the global goals were adopted in September, nobody had any clue about how to reach them, Bergkamp confessed
To give the present water professionals an indication of the way forward, he mentioned five important words: reduce, reuse, recover, recycle and replenish. To learn this mnemonic of five R-words by heart, he asked the audience to repeat them loudly several times.
“Actually there is a sixth R-word”, he added. “That is resiliency". According to Bergkamp it is a core concept when making cities and rivers more robust and responsive to climate change.
Resilient cities is one of the two main themes of this year's edition of the Amsterdam International Water Week.Dutch minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen called upon the global water sector to start taking action and tackle the complex water issues right now.
New EU policy for circular economy
The other main theme is circular economy and that was addressed by EU environmental commissioner Karmenu Vella (on top photo). In his key note he disclosed that next month the European Commission will launch a new policy plan for a more sustainable EU economy.
Recycling of products and recovery of raw materials will be two important ingredients of the EU plan for a circular economy. "It will not be a quick fix", Vella warned.
"The new policy will cost money but it is a wise investment as it will create new business opportunities", Vella went on. "Especially for companies that focus less on production and more on providing services."
EU commissioner Vella predicted a consumer behavior change. "Consumers will no longer buy products to own them, but they will lease them and pay for the services that the products offer".
Six times more water reuse
Vella do not want to disclose the details of the new policy at the time but announced there will be specific targets for recycling and reuse. "Studies on the reuse of water showed us that of all fresh water withdrawals in the EU, only 0.5 percent is reused. The studies indicate that water reuse has a potential of 6 billion cubic meter. That is six times the current rate", Vella disclosed.
Vella mentioned that Cyprus already reuses almost all its municipal waste water. This proves to Vella it is technical feasible. He urged Greece, Italy and Spain to follow the example of Cyprus.
The EU commissioner ended his key note referring to the exciting programme of the Amsterdam International Water Week and encouraged the water professionals to exchange their experiences on water reuse and recovery.
Read also on this website
● Buzzing city: Water professionals start to gather for Amsterdam International Water Week, 31 October 2015
● Inspiring solutions at 2015 AIWW conference to tackle complex water issues head-on, 24 October 2015
● Meeting the Dutch water sector at the Holland water pavilion