Forum to discuss water crisis, solutions

By Shin Hyon-hee
  • Published : Apr 30, 2012 - 19:20
  • Updated : May 2, 2012 - 14:28
Around 7,000 policymakers, industry specialists and academics from some 130 countries will gather in Busan in September to seek ways to better utilize water resources and develop related technologies.

The 2012 World Water Congress & Exhibition will provide a platform to foster a global network to tackle water scarcity and other challenges and devise potential solutions, organizers said Monday.

“Water shortages are a big problem but also a fantastic opportunity for us to produce and export technology,” said Paul Reiter, executive director of the International Water Association, a non-profit organization headquartered in London, which organizes the biennial meeting.

“At the congress, we’ll be brokering partnerships for knowledge exchange and trade and involved in regional outreach. Ultimately, we’ll pioneer and find solutions together,” he told a news conference in Seoul.
Paul Reiter (center), executive director of the International Water Association, and Korean government officials and industry executives speak at a news conference on Monday in Seoul. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)

The meeting will be held under the theme “Pioneering Global Water Solutions,” on September 16-21.

Experts at public agencies, companies, universities and think tanks will hold sessions on issues including climate change, access rights, urban drainage, wastewater treatment and desalination.

About 200 companies from home and abroad will also operate booths to showcase their latest water processing technology. Participants include Suez Environnement, Veolia Water, Xylem, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, Samsung Engineering and GS E&C.

Water insecurity has been increasingly jeopardizing life in many parts of the world as climate change accelerates desertification, and population growth and urbanization stoke consumption.

According to the United Nations, almost one-fifth of the planet’s population, or 1.2 billion, live in water-scarce areas. Another 1.6 billion face economic water shortage, where countries lack necessary infrastructure to obtain water from rivers and aquifers.

The agency also classifies Korea as a water-stress nation, citing an imbalance between use and resources.

The country’s central and local governments have been formulating strategies to ratchet up water supplies and flood control. Firms are lining up to step into water treatment as a fresh growth driver.

Doosan Heavy, Samsung Engineering, Hanwha E&C and others are building a spate of sewage, purification and desalination plants in Korea, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Last year, LG Electronics teamed up with Japan’s Hitachi Plant Technologies to venture into water treatment, while GS E&C took over Spain’s Inima, Obrascon Huarte Lain’s environmental unit.

The global water market is forecast to reach $865 billion in 2025 from about $483 billion in 2010, according to Global Water Intelligence, a U.K.-based industry data provider.

Korea currently accounts for less than 0.1 percent, the Ministry of Environment estimates.

“The government, municipalities and businesses should step up collaboration on technology, bidding, funding and other areas to secure a competitive edge in the international market,” said Kim Jin-seok, director general of the ministry’s water supply and sewage team.

By Shin Hyon-hee (