Insights

11 things I learned at the Paris Global Water Summit


1) Water for Growth: We had 650 people at the conference – our biggest yet. Although this is encouraging, there was broad agreement that the water market is tougher than it has ever been. I came away, however, with the feeling that we are at the bottom of a V-shaped growth curve, rather than in the early stages of a long stagnation of the industry.

2) The water...

What will make the spark jump?

One of my missions in life is to make the spark jump between water and money. It seems to me that the two sides are impossibly close, but for a number of reasons they don’t connect.

Let me explain the scenario. On the one hand we have water infrastructure, which is largely publicly owned, but which struggles to attract the investment it needs. Last week’s...

Is the resource-constrained economy coming back?

There are two big environmental stories going on at the moment. In California, we have a major drought threatening, while in China, the smog settling over Beijing and other parts of the north-east has got so bad that they are comparing it to a nuclear winter. Both stories have immediate relevance for the water industry, and both highlight how environmental issues are...

Getting value from waste with an African twist

I have been in Côte d'Ivoire this week for the African Water Association’s 17th Congress. It was a well-attended and lively event, with utilities from across the continent taking part.

The big surprise for me was a session showcasing the Gates Foundation’s latest innovation for Africa’s sanitation sector: a sludge-to-energy system that promises...

How long can water entertain a herd of wildebeest?

Money seems to migrate across the plains of the global economy like wildebeest following the rains, leaving behind arid and over-grazed land in search of new growths of fresh, sweet grass, but eventually returning to the place where it started.

I am beginning to feel that money may once more be eyeing the green shoots in the water utility area. It was last here during...

Two views of our fossil fuel future

 I was in Houston last week for the Produced Water Society seminar, and in Abu Dhabi this week for the International Water Summit. There are 13,000km between the two cities, but they are linked by oil, water, and money.

In Abu Dhabi, the game plan is to use the emirate’s oil wealth to invest in renewable energy – solar energy in particular – for...