Amidst the global economic downturn, about 10,000 world leaders gathered for the Singapore International Water Week to trendspot the present and future of water. Speaking at the Water Leaders Summit -– held concurrently with the main event -– Singapore’s Environment and Water Resources Minister warned on Tuesday that the water industry and water projects worldwide are suffering under the effects of the global economic slump.
“With fewer orders, some industries have cut back on production, resulting in increasing water demand for non-domestic customers,” Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim said. He opened the two-day annual event that brings together a select number of policy makers and water experts to discuss emerging and pressing water issues as part of International Water Week.
Ibrahim emphasized that the credit crunch has hit the funding for major water infrastructure and research projects, threatening to delay the execution of critical water initiatives.
But he also urged governments to step up their water development projects, include water issues in stimulus packages and invest in research and technology collaboration. This would place governments in a stronger position to respond to emerging global water challenges, such as rapidly growing urbanization.
Meanwhile, as the International Water Week entered its second day on Tuesday, Haruhiko Kuroda, the president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) highlighted the importance of sustaining investments in water infrastructure in the region. With Asian economies, populations and cities growing at a sharp rate, smart water development could reduce poverty and maintain the strong economic growth of recent years, he said.
“This is actually the time to be sustaining and increasing financing to fuel infrastructure investment to be the engine of growth again,” he said, according to an ADB statement.
, a Bulgaria native, is a Chicago-based reporter for Circle of Blue. She co-writes The Stream, a daily digest of international water news trends.
Interests: Europe, China, Environmental Policy, International Security.