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NEWS: World Water Congress sees profit in water

GLOBE-Net, a news source for ‘market intelligence on the environmental business market in Canada and around the world’, carries a press release today that states, “Next month (September 19-24) thousands of people from around the world will gather (at the World Water Congress & Exhibition) in Montreal to deal with one of humanity’s most pressing challenges – access to safe drinking water.”

As noted on the International Water Association’s webpage for the congress, the sponsors of this gathering include Suez Environnement, Veolia Water, the Oil Sands Developers Group, and Environment Canada. A keynote speaker at the congress will be Pedro Pablo Errázuriz, Chairman of Essbio, Esval, Saesa and Frontel in Chile, private water companies that are partly owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (see http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2989).

The press release continues, “One undeniable fact business leaders should note is that access to clean water creates enormous challenges for business survival, but enormous opportunities for profit as well. …Global water scarcity is an emerging risk factor that all companies must deal with and a reality that investors and shareholders should weigh before making important financial decisions. Prices for water worldwide rose last year by 10 percent, well above inflation rates, and this trend is expected to continue. Businesses in every sector will be affected by increased costs and supply scarcity. Failure to plan accordingly could spell disaster for many companies. The other reality which business leaders should note is that scarcity of vital natural resource as vital as water engenders competition, and competition means there are winners and losers.”

Deeper into the press release it is noted that, “Partnerships with the public sector institutions or with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are also part of the tool kits that progressive companies are developing. These may seem unorthodox solutions in the traditional business sense, but they are ultimately market oriented and demand driven. One innovative approach recently put forward as a way to help cash-strapped governments provide water reuse and protection infrastructure is to set up exchanges that would facilitate trading in water pollution credits. Like carbon trading, water trading would allow heavy users/polluters of water to meet a mandated limit, either by reducing their discharges or by purchasing credits tied to reductions achieved elsewhere in the watershed, such as by farmers, forest owners, or wastewater treatment plants.”

In a section of this press release on cities, it says, “The associated business opportunities involve wastewater treatment and transportation systems for domestic, industrial and municipal effluents and storm water; water treatment technologies, including wastewater reuse and recycling; water distribution systems; technologies that track water pollutants; hazardous wastes monitoring and control; and management systems that cover all aspects of water quality protection. Putting a dollar value on the costs and potential profits associated with maintaining urban water systems is a speculative venture at best. The Alliance for Water Efficiency pegs the size of the total global water market at US$360 billion, and forecasts it to rise to US$1.6 trillion in 10 years. Much of this market is concentrated in or near urban centers. According to a 2008 Alliance for Water Efficiency report Canada’s existing municipal water infrastructure deficit stands at US$31 billion.”

The press release concludes with asking “how profitable is water?” The answer – “As one market analyst notes, as global clean water resources continue to be stressed driving-up the costs, companies involved in developing critical clean water technologies and services necessary to sustain life will benefit in comparison to other investment sectors by superior profits and growth. In terms of market performance, this analyst notes over the past five years, the Dow Jones U.S. Water Index (US$DJUSWU) has surged over 80%. Since the beginning of 2007, it’s outperformed the S&P 500 by over 20% – not including the hefty dividends many water related companies pay. According to a Global Summit Management report, ‘Water Investors who parked money in water utilities for a 10-year period were even happier, scooping a massive 446% gain from 1995 to 2005, while the S&P 500 earned about 9% over the same period.'”

Professor Peter Jones, the president of the World Water Congress, says that next month’s World Water Congress will provide “an opportunity to check where Canada stands on the global scale and how we can move forward to address global water challenges.”

The Council of Canadians will be organizing an intervention related to the World Water Congress. More details to come.

The press release is at http://www.environmental-expert.com/resultEachPressRelease.aspx?cid=23745&codi=191488&lr=1. The World Water Congress website is at http://www.iwa2010montreal.org/index.asp. The congress’ sponsors are noted at http://www.iwa2010montreal.org/our-sponsors.asp.