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Foto: Ole Hartmann Schmidt.

With knowledge and experience comes a great responsibility to share these with the rest of the world. This was one of the messages in Mayor Jacob Bundsgaard’s Tuesday evening speech welcoming the first WEF conference to take place outside the USA. DANVA is co-organiser of the conference being held over the next few days in Aarhus under the auspices of “Great Water Cities Summit”.

Water can be a motor of both economic growth and improved quality of living, and the conference will see ideas from both Danish and foreign presenters who will be sharing their experiences and providing examples of innovation in the water industry, as well as specific examples of local innovative solutions. The participants were able to experience some of these on the first day of the conference, on excursions to Den Blå Rambla in Aarhus and the Marselisborg Wastewater Treatment Plant.

On Tuesday evening, Aarhus Municipality hosted a welcome reception in the Sunset Lounge at Aros, during which Mayor Jacob Bundsgaard welcomed no fewer than 70 Danish and international guests to the city.

“Water never goes out of fashion. It is a subject that has top priority globally and which has never been so relevant and pressing as it is now. For that reason, we are nowadays also very aware of the value of water, not just as a resource, but also as something that can create value in the form of recreational areas for the benefit of those living in the city,” said the mayor, as he explained to those present the city’s historical background and the special bond Aarhus has with the sea and water, going all the way back to Viking times.  He also drew attention to the city’s major ambition of becoming CO2 neutral by 2030 and the many innovative projects of Aarhus Water Ltd.

“Conferences like this are important in facilitating the exchange of knowledge and experiences. And there is a great responsibility placed on the shoulders of the conference participants to contribute to answers and solutions to the challenges relating to water around the world,” he said in his speech.

In addition to strengthening the sharing of knowledge and the network across national borders, the mayor also sees the WEF conference as an opportunity for presenting some of the technological solutions the world is demanding in an international forum.

“It provides an occasion and opportunity to draw on the knowledge of other countries so as to be able to develop our water supply and the way we manage wastewater and rainwater. So it is a welcome opportunity to introduce some of the technologies we use – and therefore also an opportunity for Danish businesses to introduce their technologies – to others whose job it is to make decisions around the world,” he said, adding that at the end of November he is due to travel to India and China to present some Danish water technologies and our experiences in using them.

And it just so happens that water and the export of Danish water technology are near the top of the mayor’s list of priorities:

“We are trying to create some frameworks that will help Danish businesses speak as one. One of the challenges when you step outside Denmark is that everything becomes a lot bigger and the political setup is also a bit more complex. If you are travelling in India or China for instance, you have to know how the political decision-making processes work. This means we all have to work together – businesses, the political system and the water utility companies – to ensure we can achieve a breakthrough.”

Unique opportunity

Claus Homann, Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Strategic Development for Aarhus Water Ltd., and a member of the Board of Trustees of the WEF, was also very pleased to have secured the conference for Aarhus.

“In my view it shows international recognition of Denmark. Particularly that DANVA and WEF have the opportunity of producing an event like this one on Great Water Cities. It is a unique opportunity, and it is not something that comes around every single day. I also think it provides an opportunity to discuss at international level some subjects that are really important for us. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be involved in setting agendas for sustainability and partnerships and accelerating knowledge and development (which are crucial for both Aarhus Water Ltd., and the Danish water industry generally). For me, the knowledge we gain from both Europe and the USA provides inspiration for our own work on these aspects,” said Claus Homann, who was looking forward to the next day’s presentations and panel discussions.

“I am also really pleased with how many are here – there are around 70 of us participants. It means we can get to know each other a little bit better. We can build up a few relationships so that the conference will not just be about today and tomorrow, but will in fact represent our common future. And that is the real purpose of the conference,” he emphasised, adding:

“I also see it as a great way of thinking ahead to the IWA World Water Congress in 2020. Of course, this WEF conference also demonstrates what we can actually achieve – in other words, not to think only in a Danish context, but also work to an international perspective.”

Enjoying the reception at Aros. (Photo: Ole Hartmann Schmidt).

The conference starts on Wednesday 2 November with a presentation by keynote speaker Torkil Jønch Clausen, followed by panel debates on:

  • Great Water Cities are sustainable
  • Great Water Cities combine water with growth
  • Great Water Cities accelerate water-based development
  • Great Water Cities develop partnerships

About the WEF

The US Water Environment Federation (WEF) regularly holds Water Cities Summits, most recently in May in Chicago. The Federation is also known for its big annual water congress WEFTEC, which this year took place in September in New Orleans.

Great Water Cities Denmark

DANVA is a partner in Great Water Cities Denmark along with GEUS, Aarhus and a number of organisations abroad, including the European water association EurEau and the International Water Association (IWA).

Read more

Read more about the congress at www.wef.org/watersummit