Events: Canadian Water Summit, Value of Water
Now that we’ve got a short break between big shows, seminars and conferences, here’s a quick rundown of what happened at two recent events.
Canadian Water Summit
“Everyone is part of this conversation,” said Molson Coors’ Michael Glade, director of water resources and real estate, as Innovolve Group’s inaugural Canadian Water Summit opened. Glade’s words couldn’t have been more true, and the Summit couldn’t have been better timed. Held just a few short weeks after the tabling of Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act, the Summit also provided a great chance for the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy (NRTEE) to release Changing Currents, a new report on water sustainability and the future of the country’s natural resource sectors.
From global corporate social responsibility strategies to Canadian water venture investments (of which there were zero in 2009, reported Cleantech Group’s Nicholas Parker) to the role of water in natural resources to climate change adaptation, this well-attended day of sessions and conversation packed a real punch.
The Value of Water: Mutual Benefits for Public and Private Sector
Wrapping up a seminar series on the Value of Water, this third event tied together many of the topics previously discussed, and featured a lively discussion on public and private involvement in water’s management.
In his talk, Ian McPherson, president of Criterion Investments, recalled issues of governance and public-private partnerships (P3s) discussed during the first and second sessions (April 22 and May 26, respectively). “How do you hold accountable a utility that belongs to the municipality?” he asked, reminding me of an argument in an article on water myths that we published in 2009.
McPherson added further arguments for private involvement in water services, such as the need for long-term planning in municipal environments with rapid political turnover. He also mentioned that where the civil service culture is risk-averse and it limits technology adoption that may make operations more efficient, private companies may be more willing to update and try new solutions.
He also claimed that there is more than enough public AND private money to solve our infrastructure woes—even with an estimated infrastructure deficit of $35 billion. “There is no shortage of capital for building infrastructure,” he said. “It’s a drop in the bucket, no problem. The system is not broken in Canada.”
Rounding out the discussion, panellist Kevin Mercer of Hampton Consulting Group discussed how low-impact development (LID) applications work with industrial and commercial entities in addition to municipalities and communities, while Cleantech Group’s Nicholas Parker tackled the question of whether or not new models for governance be created that protect the public interest but open the door to new sources of finance.