Nature-based solutions (NBS) and how they can help utilities increase water security and resilience was the focus of this month’s Water Action Platform on tour, which was broadcast from Manila on Thursday 22 July. and hosted by Isle’s head of the Philippines, Yang Villa.
Traditionally, decisionmakers have resorted to heavily engineered grey infrastructure to address water management challenges but as the sector begins to rethink the traditional asset-based approach, investment in nature-based solutions is increasingly used to address water challenges such as flooding, supply disruptions and improve water quality.
“A range of nature-based solutions are already being applied across the global water sector, helping utilities keep water clean, reduce flood risk and reach net zero,” explains Villa. “And in order for the pace of change to accelerate it is vital water utilities share knowledge, and all this hard work in the sector is underpinned by effective policymaking and regulation.”
A presentation from Dr Chris Walker of Clarity Aquatic in Australia showed NBS in practise, with constructed floating wetlands (CFW) helping reduce nutrient and sediment loading in urban stormwater and wastewater lagoons. The webinar also featured stories from four utility chief executives from across Asia and the Pacific, revealing how the pandemic has helped them pivot towards the new normal.
The first story featured was Maynilad Water Services, the Philippines’ largest water utility in terms of customer base, who explained how the company has weathered not just one, but two crises. Maynilad chief executive Mon Fernandez called 2020 their “most difficult year to date” as the company faced the twin uncertainties of renegotiating their concession agreement with the Philippine government during the Covid-19 pandemic. Through these back-to-back crises, Maynilad continued to deliver essential services while accelerating digital innovation and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of employees; “2020 was tough, but Maynilad is tougher,” said Fernandez.
Meanwhile Louise Dudley, chief executive of Urban Utilities in Queensland, Australia, shared how they are reimaging their post-pandemic workspace to foster more cooperative working by designating distinct collaborative, productive and cultural spaces.
This month’s sector expert was Geoffrey Wilson from the Asian Development Bank (ABD). Isle supported the production of ADB's report, "COVID-19 and Water in Asia and the Pacific: Guidance Note" which can be downloaded for free here.
To find out more about any of the topics listed, the Water Action Platform webinar can be viewed here.
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