Last week, the “International Symposium on the use of non-conventional waters to achieve food security” was held, co-organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Spain, in Casa de América in Madrid. Focused on the search for innovative solutions, such as the use of non-conventional water resources, including reclaimed wastewater, desalination, fog harvesting and their associated technologies, the event featured experts from a variety of areas such as water and energy, food security, climate change, regulation and financing.
Almar Water Solutions was present through Arantxa Mencía, Global Business Development Manager, who gave a presentation titled ” Financing Non Conventional Water Resources” in session 5 “Investments and financial instruments in a circular economy”. Arantxa, who has led projects in Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, contributed her knowledge in the development of non-conventional water projects using innovative financing tools such as Public Private Partnerships (PPP) or Project Finance. Thanks to these tools, non-conventional water plants have been built in places where governments or public entities do not have the necessary funds, resulting in a highly positive impact on the citizens who need these resources.
UN-Water estimates indicate that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in regions with absolute water scarcity, and reducing water losses and re-diverting water to water-stressed regions will require large investments and the use of non-conventional waters. But non-conventional water use requires changes in traditional water allocation frameworks, financing structures, water-quality standards, regulation and institutional mandates.
Almar Water Solutions, a company specialized in the development of non-conventional water infrastructure, has been awarded contracts for two desalination plants in 2019, one in Saudi Arabia and the other in Mombasa, and has acquired a wastewater treatment plant in Bahrain. Convinced that the use of non-conventional water is the only solution to deal with scarcity and the effects of climate change, it establishes this type of financing tool to develop water infrastructures in different geographical areas of the planet.
Felipe Guinea, Managing Director of Almar Water Solutions, participated yesterday in the European Infrastructure Finance Summit, held in the Hotel Riu Plaza España, in Madrid. The European Infrastructure Finance Summit 2019 offered a general outlook of the European infrastructure market and brought together more than 250 specialists from the public and private sectors to openly debate what the future of infrastructure in Europe might look like.
Felipe Guinea was a panel member in the session titled Water Infrastructure: Meeting a New and Pressing Challenge, along with other specialists from the water and finance sectors. Felipe, as an expert in the development and financing of water infrastructure, gave his opinion on the lack of project structuring in the sector and indicated that private companies are hungry to invest in the industry.
Another question covered by this panel was whether the European Union and the Member States are currently capable of developing the water infrastructure required to respond to these challenges and how the failure to allocate specific budgets is affecting the industry, when there is currently significant liquidity in the market that could complement and contribute to this development in a faster and more balanced manner.
Traditionally blessed with abundant rainfall, natural reserves and an extensive network of water infrastructure, today Europe is facing a totally different paradigm in which severe drought and a population explosion are exerting pressure on a system that in some areas has not been renovated for many decades.
Almar Water Solutions, with offices in the Netherlands and Spain, deals with this problem close up and offers both financial and technological solutions that allow governments and institutions to have access to this infrastructure and to provide their citizens with a resource as vital as water.
This week, Almar Water Solutions participated in the event The Fourth Africa Climate Resilience Investment Summit (ACRIS) held in Johannesburg, South Africa. This summit has become a platform for the governments of Africa, civil society, international financial organizations and the private sector to focus on the planning, design and implementation of investments in sectors that are sensitive to climate change, such as energy, water, transport, ecosystems and agriculture, among others.
Manel Salvadó, Business Development Manager for Africa, was a speaker at session 2 on Tuesday titled “Managing Land & Water Resources in the Face of Climate Change”, in which he presented the opportunities of private investment to accelerate the development of water infrastructure in the countries of Africa. Manel also highlighted the difference between resilience and water crises, two concepts that are currently very relevant with completely distinct forms of management.
Currently, 40% of soil in Africa is degraded. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), some 83% of Sub-Saharan African people depend on the land for their livelihood, and food production in Africa will have to increase almost 100% by 2050 to meet population demands. Millions of Africans still suffer from water shortages due to problems of uneven distribution and management of the existing supplies. One example of the disparity in water availability is the Congo Basin, where 30% of the continent’s water drains through lands that are inhabited by just 10% of Africa’s population.
The fourth Africa Climate Resilience Investment Summit (ACRIS) included collaboration and participation by the Africa Climate Resilient Investment Facility (AFRI-RES), the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank.
Almar Water Solutions, which has offices in South Africa, is aware of the great water needs of Sub-Saharan Africa, and it is one of the large geographical areas where it is focusing its business development area. As a result, the company was recently awarded a contract in Mombasa for the first large-scale desalination plant in Kenya, with a daily capacity of 100,000 cubic meters of drinking water. The project will supply drinking water to more than one million people and will be managed and operated for 25 years under a BOT scheme.