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ICE hosts industry forum on global water security

Senior industry figures from key organisations, institutions and academia met to discuss the future security of global water supplies at the ICE last week.

The event was hosted at ICE and jointly organised with the Royal Academy of Engineering and The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) on behalf of government chief scientific advisor John Beddington.

The workshop sought to establish how the engineering community can best work with partners to help protect the quality and supply of water in the future.

Beddington opened the forum, saying that global water security is a very real problem which needs to be dealt with urgently.

“Often when we talk about problems such as climate change we refer to timescales beyond
even the lifetime of our children. I find it helpful to focus on the changes we are already seeing today, and the developments we can expect on a range of inter-connected global challenges over just the next two decades.

The problems on climate change link closely to challenges on energy, food and water security, and to the issue of a global population increasing by around 70M people each year,” he said.

“A key message from the recent Copenhagen climate science meeting was that the much needed slowdown in carbon emissions just isn’t happening, and the real world impacts we are seeing are getting worse. This will have serious consequences in the future, one of which is the issue we are here to talk about today – global water security,” Beddington continued.

“With world water demand set to increase by around 30% by 2030, many countries will struggle to meet the needs of their populations, and cross-border tensions could increase.

“We need to look at how engineers can most effectively contribute in providing solutions,” he said.

“With world water demand set to increase by around 30% by 2030, many countries will struggle to meet the needs of their populations, and cross-border tensions could increase. “

John Beddington

The workshop also included a series of sessions examining the water supply issues in the rural and urban environments across the world, using examples from Asia, Africa and Europe. The reoccurring theme was the need for a more holistic approach to water security in future. Speakers included representatives from Black and Veatch, Halcrow Group, University of East Anglia, Imperial College, Cardiff University and Veolia.

The workshop was organised under the Engineering the Future banner, an agreement between
the ICE, Engineering and Technology Board and the Royal Academy of Engineering and other engineering institutions, to coordinate their policy and communications work to ensure maximum impact with the public, government and other key stakeholders.

ICE head of policy Andrew Crudgington said the workshop was a significant outcome for the group.

“That we were approached directly by Beddington to organise and host the Global Water Security forum is an excellent example of the Engineering the Future agreement working to ensure the engineering community is involved in the policy-making process at as early a stage as possible,” he said.

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