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Events: Canadian Water Summit, Value of Water

Posted on July 12, 2010
Written by Kerry Freek

L-R: Rosemary Niechcial, Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies Canada; Michael Glade, Molson Coors Brewing Company; Nicholas Parker, Cleantech Group; and Gerald Butts, WWF-Canada.

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
June 17 @ The International Centre

“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.

Some highlights:

  • At a morning panel on Water and the Future of the Canadian Economy, Glade discussed the company’s aggressive global water strategy, its involvement in the Water Disclosure Project (read more in this report and in Water Canada’s upcoming November/December issue), and the water use goals it is meeting.
  • Nicholas Parker told audiences to look out for the following investment trends in 2010: water-energy, land-energy, land-water, carbon-water. Despite the drop in venture dollars, water innovation surges. “Many investors are coming up to speed,” he said.
  • “Water is how people will come to know that the climate is changing,” said Gerald Butts of WWF-Canada, bringing mitigation and adaption into the conversation. Providing an excellent segue to the next panel, which focused on results of the NRTEE’s report, he also said we must set aside water for nature and “respect the limits of what nature can provide.”
  • “Our world is growing thirsty; our goal is to satisfy that thirst,” said Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty during his lunchtime keynote address, in reference to the proposed Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act. “Water does not belong to us,” he added. “We merely hold it in trust for our children.”
  • Jane Comeault, sustainability strategist for Metro Vancouver, spoke as part of the day’s final panel entitled Half-Full: Our Water Future. Regarding stakeholder engagement and public education, she said: “We need to think about a whole suite of tools — not just brochures.” In Metro Vancouver, they’re implementing some interesting ones. The Region engaged a group of young filmmakers to create short videos promoting the Region’s municipal tap water campaign, for instance.

Ian McPherson, Criterion Investments

The Value of Water: Mutual Benefits for Public and Private Sector
June 29 @ University of Toronto

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.

2 Responses to “Events: Canadian Water Summit, Value of Water”

  1. [...] Read more here: Events: Canadian Water Summit, Value of Water | Water Canada [...]

  2. Well, the program was so good and hence I congratulate to the organizing committee. In the mean time, the Water Forum Nepal (WFN) missed the program that could be beneficial and fruitful to WFN. I being the secretary of WFN hence would not like to miss such programs now onwards and I therefore would like to request you to provide for your update notes every-time now on wards. Once again would like to wish for the every success programs in future.

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