Water and Wastewater Conference

  • Hermione Greenhalgh

Canning House hosted its first Water and Wastewater Conference, which aimed to identify needs and trends in the water industry in Latin America. The conference was sponsored by CAF, organised in partnership with British Water, and kindly hosted by WSP.

Karen Dingley, Head of Mining and Water Services at WSP, and Cristina Cortes, CEO of Canning House, introduced the conference.

The audience then heard a keynote address from Franz Rojas, Coordinator of the Water Agenda at CAF, which gave a comprehensive overview of the trends, challenges and opportunities in the water industry in Latin America. Andrew Thompson, editor at LatinNews, built on the discussion, drawing on the insights from the latest Canning Paper on Water, which he authored. There is an abundant supply of water in Latin America, but mismanagement, unequal distribution and climate change pose challenges to universal clean water access and sanitation. Both speakers noted the huge potential for greater attention to, and investment in, this crucial industry.

This discussion was followed by separate presentations by George Middleton, Eddie Malone and Jimmy Carter, from the Department for International Trade (DIT). They spoke about the specific opportunities in the LATAC water industry, including: wastewater network coverage and treatment improvements, flood resilience and high tech desalination for the mining industry.

The discussion then shifted to specific regions and case studies. Martin Renom, representing the Government of Argentina, spoke in depth about the Acumar project, and some of the other new exciting water and sanitation project proposals in Argentina. Julia Dent, Senior Geochemist at WSP, explained the importance of water supply for the mining industry in Chile, demonstrating the breadth of applications of water management. Finally, Andy Wallace, Water Sector Director of Wood, spoke about the work the company does in Peru, Chile and the Caribbean to tackle water insecurity. The discussions highlighted the importance of early stakeholder engagement at different levels of government and civil society.

Lila Thompson, International Director of British Water; Maria Manidaki, Water Investment Planning Advisor at Mott Macdonald; and Sam Hoexter, Regional Head, Latin America at UK Export Finance, then addressed the important question of how to access finance. Their presentations discussed models for both private and public sector involvement.

An interesting Q&A followed, providing the audience with an opportunity to offer comment and ask more about what the UK can offer Latin America, and vice versa. The Water and Wastewater Conference was the start of an important conversation, which Canning House and its partners intend to build on with individuals and companies interested in exploring this burgeoning Latin American industry.

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