AIWW2019: A good flirt to make water work
A broad recognition emerged on the first day of the international conference of the Amsterdam International Water Week 2019 that water is a connector across many sectors. Without clean water no sustainable development. The recognition supported the motto of the week: Connect and act to make water work. Be a good flirt with other sectors and make water work.
The Amsterdam International Water Week takes place from 4 to 8 November and combines the international AIWW Conference on global water issues and the water technology trade fair Aquatech Amsterdam.
Engage with other sectors
‘Let us engage with farmers, energy suppliers, development workers, health care providers and financiers to move forward’, said Gerhard van den Top, chairman of Waternet Amsterdam regional water authority. ‘Make water work in other sectors and be an interesting partner to flirt with.’
According to Van den Top the water sector has huge challenges ahead as climate change will have severe impact on water systems all around the world. Extreme events of too much, too little and too polluted water will intensify. Population growth and economic development will sharply increase the demand for fresh water.
Van den Top said that the problems will be too big for the water sector to solve alone and therefore he called upon the water professionals present at the conference, to be more open and transfer knowledge of complex water systems to others, outside the sector.
‘We should not start with the ‘w’ word’, he advised, ‘but first find out what the other is doing and what we, as water managers, can contribute”. As an example, he mentioned the transition in the energy sector to move away from fossil fuels and the waste sector towards a circular economy.
‘As a water authority here in Amsterdam we are helping with projects such as producing energy from water and making new materials from wastewater. We made a little beginning to change from a sectoral problem solver into a partner in a societal network that deals with today’s challenges.’
Water is more than a risk
Another aspect addressed on the first day of the conference, was financing. The supply of clean water and the management of water systems is taken for granted and the availability of water as a natural resource is not properly valued, said executive director Mark Gough of Natural Capital Coalition in his keynote. ‘Companies should not see water as a risk, but as a dependency.’
In response to recognizing that water is a risk factor, businesses started water saving programmes, Gough explained. ‘But that is not enough as water resources are deteriorating quickly. We need to understand what water means to us. Here is where capital comes in.’
Light bulb moment
According to Gough the capitalisation should not only concern the monetizing of water as a commodity, but also include its intrinsic value where we depend upon. ‘In board rooms there are often discussions about the impact of business and policies. But it is not just about this impact. A task group can deal with that on a Friday afternoon. If you introduce the capitalization of water, it is turned into a dependency on water as a natural resource. Flipping it around, creates a light bulb moment’, he said.
Stay tuned as more news items on this website will keep you posted on the Amsterdam International Water Week. Visitors of the Aquatech Amsterdam trade fair are very welcome at the Holland pavilion in hall 11 and get in contact with the Dutch water sector.