A record number of delegates attended British Water’s annual International Reception at the House of Commons on 13 October. Over 170 representatives from the water industry, government departments and academia gathered at the Terrace Pavilion for this event, which was hosted by Angela Smith MP, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Water Group.
The event, which is free to British Water members, recognises the efforts made by members and invited guests in promoting international trade. Countries represented included China, India, France, Germany, Ireland, Iran, Turkey and the UAE.
Lloyd Martin, Chief Executive of British Water said: “I am delighted that we had so many attendees representing different aspects of the water industry, with great experience in a wide range of countries. The list of attendees reflects the wide-reaching outlook of British Water, which plays such an important role in supporting the industry and promoting global links.”
“This has become an annual event for British Water and is growing every year. It is an excellent opportunity for representatives of the UK water industry to network with decision-makers from around the world.
“Events such as this are a key part of building partnerships and promoting UK expertise. In future British Water plans to make this a two-day event, built around the reception, in order to arrange site visits and B2B meetings for international delegations.”
The UK Government lent strong support to the event, with representatives in attendance from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs; the Environment Agency; UK Export Finance and the Department for International Trade.
Angela Smith MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Water Group, told delegates, “British Water has a critical role to play in bringing people together to create a robust supply chain through encouraging innovative new technologies.”
Keynote speaker Dr Analia Mendez, Global Director Social Mission Expertise HomeCare, at Unilever, spoke about the role of the private sector in delivering societal and behavioural change. Unilever has committed to helping 25 million people access toilets by 2020 by linking its Domestos brand to improvements in sanitation. She told delegates that embedding sustainability in brands was crucial to business.
“Water-related issues can be seen as both a threat and an opportunity” Dr Mendez said, explaining that for a company like Unilever reducing water use in factories and agriculture went alongside encouraging behaviour change among consumers and developing more water-efficient products. Dr Mendez called on the water industry to “get a better understanding of people’s behaviour and motivation” regarding water and hygiene.
Demand on resources
Martin Shouler, Associate Director of Arup, provided an industry response, warning that the speed of global change through urbanisation and climate change is putting an increasing demand on resources, especially water.
“Climate change is typically thought of as a carbon issue,” he said, “but 80 per cent of impact will be felt through water – in sea-level rises, extreme weather events, drought and flooding.”
British Water members welcomed the opportunity to network. Justin Dunning, Sales Manager, Chelsea Technologies Group said, “Many thanks for last night’s event, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The speakers were fantastic and the food and wine exemplary. It was a really useful evening in which I genuinely extended my contacts in the industry amongst both BW members and guests.”
The British Water 2016 International Reception was sponsored by Aquam, Balmoral Tanks, Byrne Looby, EMCA, Enterprise Ireland, Global Water Intelligence, International Water Summit Abu Dhabi, M-Power Enterprises, Polypipe, UK Export Finance and Wasser Berlin International.