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Liquid assets

Sara Thiam

Exploiting Scotland’s climatic advantage.

Writing from Scotland during the wettest June for some time, it seems strange to talk about water scarcity but it remains a fact of life in many parts of the world. There is, however, growing appreciation of water as an asset and a critical global resource - not least because of the ICE’s recent State of the Nation Water report. Scotland’s unique response to these challenges comes in the form of the Hydro Nation strategy which formalises a Scottish Government commitment to bring water engineering expertise to bear for the benefit of the global community

Scotland is fortunate to have a relative abundance of water and has built up knowledge and developed technologies that have been effective here but that can also be beneficial elsewhere. A recently announced Climate Justice Fund, which will focus on water management in developing nations, is just the first in a series of proposed international actions on water issues.

Growth potential

Water is also seen as a sector which offers significant economic growth potential with a global water supply and waste water treatment sub-sector worth approximately £250M. A recent Frontier Economics report for HSBC highlights the potential economic returns investment in better water management could deliver globally. There are over 300 companies in Scotland working in this sector and government is keen to work with them to grow their businesses and bring ideas to market.

Scotland’s efforts to tackle climate change and the government commitment to the low carbon economy bring with them an emphasis on environmental and clean technology. In addition to growing Scotland’s water sector, the aspiration is to help other countries better manage their water. Protecting and improving water provision and boosting their economic growth.

As a hydro nation, Scotland will better exploit its natural water abundance and build on and improve the productivity of its water industry sector including a water innovation park bringing new technologies to market. The vision is to increase international presence and profile through capitalising on market potential and responding to the global water challenges and to protect and enhance the environment through greater efficiency and reduced energy consumption.

Water Resources Bill

A Water Resources Bill due to appear shortly will place a duty on Scottish ministers to ensure the sustainable development of the value of Scotland’s water resources. Scottish Water, the publicly owned corporation with a unique regulatory system is being viewed as an asset in its own right as it begins to develop its international business and a domestic renewable energy generation company in addition to its core business. The Scottish Water governance model is also the subject of academic and international political interest. The Hydro Nation prospectus includes the adoption of the model by other nations as one of its aims. Work is ongoing with the academic sector to develop expertise in water issues and global recognition of Scotland as a centre of excellence.

ICE has an important role to play through its knowledge exchange and public voice work and this has already begun with a highly successful Water Panel visit and Hydro Nation event earlier this month.

  • Sara Thiam is ICE Scotland’s regional director

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