Jul 01, 2008

First Singapore International Water Week a Success

Week resulted in deals worth more than $270 million and international initiatives to boost water research and investments

Governments, utilities providers and water companies signed 27 agreements totaling more than $270 million during the first Singapore International Water Week, which drew to a close last Friday. In addition, a water fund was launched to attract $320 million in investments in Asian water projects.

The global event for the water industry also saw governments and international organizations announcing significant initiatives to prioritize water investments and research. Singapore plans to set up an Institute of Water Policy to research water policy and governance in Asia, and Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda unveiled a seven-point agenda for prioritizing water investments in the Asia-Pacific, saying that the bank was committed to helping states in the region boost new water investments to $20 billion to improve water security.

Malaysia's AmInvestment Bank and Singapore water firm Konzen launched a water fund that hopes to pull in $320 million to invest in Asian water projects.

Among the business deals concluded was one worth an estimated $200 million over the next three years for Singapore-based Ayser-Technische Corp. and Acuatico. The two signed a Memorandum of Understanding to set up a joint venture to design, construct and operate private water infrastructure projects in Indonesia. They also teamed up to provide and run central water treatment facilities for all future developments by Bakrieland, the largest developer listed on the Indonesian Stock Exchange.

Singapore’s water ministry and water agency inked agreements of their own, with the support of the country’s Economic Development Board, including Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with three private firms.

There were bilateral agreements with water authorities in other countries as well. An
MOU between Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and its counterpart in the United Arab Emirates will see cooperation on water research and management, environmental protection and sustainable development.

Singapore water companies won significant contracts, too. A Singapore consortium comprising PUB Consultants, CPG Consultants and PICO Art International secured a contract to design the King Abdullah Water Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The Water Expo, a tradeshow that brought together more than 350 participants from some 40 countries, provided additional opportunities for business networking.

The inaugural Singapore International Water Week also featured policy and scientific components – the Water Leaders Summit, a gathering of government officials and industry leaders, and the Water Convention, a scientific conference.

A highlight of the Water Week was the presentation of the first Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize to Dr. Andrew Benedek, the Canadian researcher who pioneered the development of low-pressure membranes, which made it possible to derive drinking water from even highly polluted sources, and at a lower cost.

The Water Week, which was attended by more than 8,500 representatives from governments, utilities providers, businesses and academia, was held concurrently with two other conferences on sustainability – the World Cities Summit and the East Asia Summit Conference on Liveable Cities. In a speech on June 25 at the Water Leaders Summit, Professor Tommy Koh, Singapore’s ambassador-at-large and the chairman of the Asia-Pacific Water Forum Governing Council, said: “Water is essential for life. There are over 1 billion people in the world, 700 million in Asia alone, who do not have access to safe drinking water. The time has come for us to recognise people’s access to safe drinking water and to sustainable sanitation as a human right.”

The proceedings of the Water Leaders Summit will be written up as a “blue paper” and presented at the World Water Week in Stockholm this August and the World Water Forum in Turkey next March.

For more information, log onto www.siww.com.sg