Insights

A profitable lesson from the non-profit sector

I have been in Stockholm this week for World Water Week.  It is where water NGOs, academics, government aid agencies and international financiers go each year to exchange ideas and raise funding. Historically it was a relatively hostile place for businesses, but times have changed. The big funders of water projects these days are the likes of Coca-Cola, HSBC and...

Is the water industry ready for another roll-up?

What is right for the water industry at this minute in time? I have been thinking about this question for two reasons. First, because of my work with Amane Advisors, I am now more involved in advising on corporate strategy, and if you are going to tell someone that they should do something, you need to have a coherent story about why they should do it now. Second,...

What does FO tell us about innovation in water?

Five years ago, forward osmosis – the process of using a highly concentrated solution to draw fresh water from an less concentrated solution through a semi-permeable membrane – suddenly seemed like it was going to solve all of the world’s problems. It could be used to desalinate seawater, to generate electricity, to clean up difficult wastewaters, and...

Financing full-cycle innovation: a lesson in humiliation

I faced a humiliating experience of my own making at the Singapore Technology Innovation Summit earlier this month. I was chairing a panel on “financing full cycle innovation”. It was the second-last session of the day: the last was a wrap up session where each of the session chairs was supposed to sum up what had been said. Given that my session had just...

Forget saints and get to work on water’s gravy train

Does the water industry need to recruit more living saints? When you look at the way water leaders are incentivised, it would seem that as an industry, we are heavily reliant on good intentions.

For example, a few years ago we invited an assistant minister responsible for water infrastructure from a middle-income country to speak at our annual conference. I was a little...

The future of water finance in two lines or 127 pages

The High Level Panel on Infrastructure Financing for a Water-Secure World published its latest report this month. It is supposed to send a “wake-up call” for governments to commit to action.

I have a horrible feeling that they will continue to slumber on, not least because this kind of panel is always too wary of frightening the horses to say anything that...