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International Water Summit tackles water scarcity problems
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International Water Summit tackles water scarcity problems

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As the Middle East and North Africa continues its fast pace of urban development, water leaders from across the globe tackle issues of sustainable development in this water-scarce region.

At this year’s inaugural International Water Summit 2013 (IWS), hosted by Masdar, experts from all industry sectors come together to Abu Dhabi to highlight the importance of awareness, financial sustainability and technology adoption to ensure global sustainability for water.

Speaking during a panel discussion, Uschi Eid, Vice Chair UN Secretary Generals Advisory Board on Water, highlighted the importance of policy makers to device a sound water demand management strategy. Eid discussed that while the three T’s (Taxation, Tariff and Transfer) play an important role in giving financial sustainability to operators, the UN is exploring possibilities for water utility companies around the world to have access to local financing market.

Eid said, “Through our research in some countries, we found that a range of water sanitation and utility companies manage to cover the costs of maintenance. However, the revenues they generate are not being reinvested in the water sector. In addition, interest rates are high, return periods are short and these utilities are too small to own bonds by themselves.”

To resolve this, Eid added, “It is important for governments to create conditions to pool together such small and healthy local water utilities and improve access to commercial markets.”

Anthony Cox, Head of Division at Environment and Economy Integration, OECD stated that in a broad context, “challenges facing water-poor or water-rich countries are the same”. He pointed out that it is therefore important for governments and economic regulators to engage in strategic financial planning that go beyond the three T’s. “Matching political ambition with financial realities is critical to give confidence to both, consumers and water utilities about the sustainability model.”

According to Harry Seah, CTO, Public Utilities, Singapore, key solutions to the water scarcity challenge include “making conservation as a way of life”, innovation in technology to help use water efficiently and keeping costs affordable, and working with industries towards a sustainable model.

In its inaugural edition, the IWS is being held concurrently with the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) and as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.











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