Singapore Water Week sees deals, initiatives to boost water research, investments

Governments, utility providers and water companies signed 27 agreements totaling more than USD$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 USD$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...

Jun 30th, 2008

• Agreements signed between water authorities and companies from Singapore, India, Japan, Middle East, Europe and US; water fund launched to attract S$435m (US$320m) in Asian water investments, which ADB also vows to boost

SINGAPORE, June 30, 2008 -- Governments, utilities providers and water companies signed 27 agreements totaling more than SGD367 million (USD270 million) during the first Singapore International Water Week, which drew to a close last Friday. In addition, a water fund was launched to attract SGD435 million (USD320 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 SGD27.2 billion (USD20 billion), to improve water security. Malaysia's AmInvestment Bank and Singapore water firm Konzen launched a water fund that hopes to pull in SGD435 million (USD320 million) to invest in Asian water projects.

Among the business deals concluded was one worth an estimated SGD272 million (USD200 million) over the next three years for Singapore-based Ayser-Technische Corporation 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.

Black & Veatch, a global engineering, construction and consulting company, clinched about SGD46 million (USD34 million) worth of projects in the Singapore, Australian and Hong Kong water markets, while US-based Marmon Water, one of the world's largest manufacturers of residential and commercial water treatment systems, will build the SGD24 million (USD18 million) Marmon Water Manufacturing Plant in Singapore to produce filtration systems and components for the worldwide residential water treatment market.

A Singapore company, tech start-up AridTec, found distributors for its patent-pending atmospheric water harvesting solutions, which produce water from the air, in more than 10 countries in the Middle East, Europe and the Asia-Pacific. Secured through its wholly-owned subsidiary AirQua International, the distribution deals are expected to earn more than SGD16 million (USD12 million) within the first year.

Siemens Water Technologies won a SGD4 million (USD2.9 million) grant from the Singapore Government to research seawater desalination at the SGD60 million (USD44 million) global water centre it launched in Singapore in June last year, while Nitto Denko, a leading diversified materials manufacturer, will become the first Japanese enterprise to set up a SGD6 million (USD4.4 million) water R&D centre on the island. The global infrastructure and environment firm CDM announced it would open a Technical Centre for Integrated Water Management and Urban Planning in Singapore, to promote the use of advanced planning and simulation models, decision software and geospatial information systems in the management of urban environments.

CH2M Hill, a leading water program management, construction management, technical consulting and design firm, said it was establishing a SGD13,600 (USD10,000) study grant award for students pursuing a water engineering-related master's degree in Singapore, to be given to one recipient this year and another in 2009.

Singapore's water ministry and water agency inked agreements of their own, with the support of the country's Economic Development Board.

These include Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with three private firms. An agreement between Singapore's national water agency, PUB, and French waste and water management company SUEZ Environnement, will see joint projects on filtration membranes, water recycling, water analytics and hydroinformatics. With Japan's Teijin, PUB will undertake joint R&D on used water treatment, and with Singapore-based Optiqua Technologies, a collaboration on biosensor technology.

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. MOUs with two Bahraini government agencies will see PUB providing consultancy and training services for sewerage and sanitary systems in the Kingdom, and undertaking joint projects in water management. In India, PUB will work with the Water Supply and Sanitation Board in the state of Maharashtra to minimize water wastage and improve infrastructure in Indian cities and towns.

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.

Many of these agreements were formalized at regional business forums during the Water Week. These were designed as exclusive networking sessions between governments, utilities providers and water solutions companies in Australia, China, Europe, India, Japan, the Middle East and South-east Asia.

The Water Expo, a trade show that brought together more than 350 participants from some 40 countries, provided additional opportunities for business networking. Deals worth USD1 million or more were concluded by exhibitors such as Hydranautics, Koch Membrane Systems, Nalco Pacific and EIMCO Water Technologies.

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 and technopreneur 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 25 June 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 recognize people's access to safe drinking water and to sustainable sanitation as a human right."

Summing up the conclusions of the Water Leaders Summit, Professor Koh said that participants had shared a common vision to "make our cities sustainable, vibrant and livable." Cities should strive for a number of common goals, among them "safe drinking water, sustainable sanitation, clean air, a good living environment, the efficient use of natural resources, including water and energy, the protection and conservation of biodiversity, good jobs, safety, efficient transportation, affordable housing, a balance between the built environment and greenery, a balance between retaining a city's history and heritage and modernity, a culture of tolerance and diversity, centers of learning, good food, vibrant culture and low or zero corruption."

At the same event, Singapore's Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, said: "I am confident that this summit has given all of us present the opportunity to exchange views on how to solve various water challenges through effective governance and implementation, investments in technology and innovation, and sound policies and principles. I am sure the exchange of ideas, especially on water solutions and applications, will give everyone food for thought when we tackle the challenges we face in our own cities."

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.

Michael Toh, General Manager of the Singapore International Water Week, said: "Our goal was to achieve the sorts of synergies you get only when the water industry's key players are in the same room, and on the same page. And there is no doubt that the Singapore International Water Week has accomplished that. We hope to do even better when we return next year."

The Singapore International Water Week is the global platform for water solutions. It brings policymakers, industry leaders, experts and practitioners together to address challenges, showcase technologies, discover opportunities and celebrate achievements in the water world.

The inaugural Water Week, held from 23 to 27 June at Suntec Singapore, centered on the theme "Sustainable Water Solutions for Cities." Some 8,500 delegates and trade visitors attended the event to discuss the latest challenges, best practices and technologies in the water industry. The annual event features the Water Leaders Summit, Water Convention, Water Expo, Business Forums and Water Festival, as well as the presentation of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize for innovative contributions in solving the world's water problems.

The first winner of this prestigious international award is Dr Andrew Benedek, a Canadian researcher and successful technopreneur, who delivered the Singapore Water Lecture during the Water Week. In addition, a number of significant business deals and collaborations were announced by industry players on the sidelines of the Water Week, including several important MOUs signed between Singapore and various countries.

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