News | May 14, 2018

Transcending Boundaries And Finding Opportunity Behind Historic Change At The Global Water Summit 2018

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The Global Water Summit 2018 took place on 15 – 17th April 2018 at the Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center, Paris, France. The conference brought together over 700 executives and business leaders from across the water, finance, technology, and industrial sectors of over 60 countries to examine the widespread changes forecast for the water industry, with new project finance strategies and $100B of national infrastructure spending plans being unveiled in several key water markets.

The Global Water Summit 2018 opened with a pre-conference workshop on 15th April focused on Saudi Arabia’s ambitious national water privatisation programme, with the Kingdom contemplating the largest water privatisation programme since the UK government sold off its water assets in 1989.

The workshop was hosted by Global Water Summit organisers GWI (www.globalwaterintel.com) in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA), National Water Company (NWC), Water and Electricity Company (WEC) and the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC).

Officials from each of the four government institutions outlined their plans, targets, and needs for the national privatisation programme, which offers a $60B investment opportunity to the water industry. The workshop marked a landmark discussion between Saudi officials and 130 delegates representing official government organisations, Saudi water companies and leading international project developers.

The conference’s Day 1 Opening Plenary followed on 16th April, beginning with a keynote speech from Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief, The Economist, who argued that the world is in the same position as it was in 1900, with some difficult geo-political times and demographic changes ahead, but implored that the water industry should be optimistic in the wake of financial and technological innovation.

Following on from the keynote speech, the Summit’s Opening Plenary featured a speaker panel composed of Haje Schütte, Head of Financing for Sustainable Development Division, OECD, Jeffrey Kightlinger, General Manager of The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Laurent August, Senior Executive Vice President - Development Innovation & Markets, Veolia and Gail Klintworth, Partner, SYSTEMIQ.

The panel provided insights on the use of blended finance strategies to mobilise development and private finance for water projects, drought resilience plans, and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, with Gail Klintworth remarking “we need to look for the business opportunities behind the SDGs for water”.

The summit’s two-day agenda featured a wide range of expert-led sessions, roundtables, and technology competitions, relating to the conference’s five strand session themes: Industry, Desalination, Finance, Digital Solutions and Leading Utilities.

The sessions featured over 150 speakers across the two-day agenda and unpacked some of the most pressing topics in the water industry, from customer and R&D innovations in desalination, to smart digital solutions for water, and the successes and technology needs in the utility sector.

Finance flows into water infrastructure were also a major focus at the conference, with GWI running several finance sessions at the summit in partnership with The World Bank and The Global Water Leaders Group.

The finance sessions brought together delegates from development finance institutions, governments, and utilities from across the world, to discuss how blended finance can be used to fund water projects and how utility bankability can be achieved. The outcome saw some of water’s most important stakeholders agreeing that a ‘Water Finance Network’ should be established to help mobilise project finance and procurement and capitalise on investment opportunities on a global scale.

Current water infrastructure investment opportunities were further discussed in the summit’s roundtable sessions which featured discussions on countries with national infrastructure spending plans that together represent $100B of investment. Water specialists from countries such as Argentina, Vietnam, Indonesia, Oman, and Nigeria hosted roundtable discussions on the investment opportunities and plans for private sector partnerships for water projects in these markets.

Meanwhile, the Global Water Awards took place in Paris alongside the Summit, with the 2018 winners and distinctions being announced at a Gala Dinner at the Pavillon d’Armenonville on 16th April 2018. The full list of 2018 winners & distinctions can be found on www.globalwaterawards.com

The Global Water Summit 2018 agenda culminated in a Closing Plenary on 17th April which featured C-suite executives from major water companies Gradiant, Xylem, Evoqua and Suez discussing the outlook for the water sector over the coming years and the companies’ future strategies.

The Closing Plenary saw India voted as water’s major growth opportunity by the delegate audience, who also chose ‘political instability and populism’ as the greatest risk for the water sector, with more than half of the votes (58.7%).

The complete Global Water Summit 2018 agenda and speakers line-up can be found at: www.watermeetsmoney.com

About The Global Water Summit
The Global Water Summit is the major annual business meeting for the water industry and each year offers a rare opportunity to meet some of the world’s leading thinkers on the future of water. The event is widely known as the leading water industry conference, attracting more top water leaders and business executives than any other water event, and is vital in shaping the movements of the water industry each year.

The Global Water Summit is hosted by Global Water Intelligence (GWI), The Global Water Leaders Group and The Leading Utilities of the World Network.

The 2018 Summit took place on 15-17 April 2018 at the Marriott Conference Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center in Paris.

Register your interest for the next Global Water Summit here: http://www.watermeetsmoney.com/register-your-interest-gws-2019/

See the complete 2018 Summit agenda here: http://www.watermeetsmoney.com/agenda-2018-day-1/

See a list of all speakers who attended GWS 2018: http://www.watermeetsmoney.com/2018-speakers/

SOURCE: The Global Water Summit