By the year 2030, some 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity, according to the United Nations.
About four billion people – almost two-thirds of the world’s population – already experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year. And more than two billion live without safe water at home.
Climate change, population growth and environmental degradation are key factors putting global water supply systems under pressure.
“Access to water underpins economic development and public health worldwide,” Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for the environment, climate change and land reform, said during this year’s World Water Day, a UN-backed campaign to promote the importance of sustainable freshwater resources.
Cunningham continued: “It is critical to sustainable development and a sustainable and prosperous world. We cannot move forward as a global society while so many people are living without safe water.”
As one of Europe’s wettest places, Scotland has abundant water resources and is developing these under the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation strategy. This aims to improve the stewardship and value of Scotland’s water resources and share best practice with the world.
The Scottish Government also sponsors the Hydro Nation Water Innovation Award in the VIBES – Scottish Environment Business Awards – which recognise businesses in Scotland that are taking significant steps to improve or reduce their impact on the environment, typically making significant financial savings in the process.
The VIBES Hydro Nation Award recognises businesses, partnerships and collaborations that have specifically developed innovative products, practices or services in the area of water treatment and technology.
Previous winners include Aqualution Systems, based in Duns in the Scottish Borders. The firm’s technology for decontaminating ready-to-eat foods, such as fruit, salads and vegetables, has helped clients, including Marks and Spencer, reduce water consumption by up to 80 per cent.
The company is also helping suppliers in Africa to reduce their water and energy consumption.
“We are proud to take our place among many excellent companies developing technologies to support efficient water management in food production in Africa and the wider world,” says Nick Meakin, chief executive of Aqualution Systems.
Scottish Water, which supplies fresh drinking water to 2.5 million households and 152,000 business premises in Scotland, helps to deliver the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation strategy, and the utility company is also a partner in the VIBES Awards.
“Our international work includes helping Malawi to deliver clean water and sanitation for all by 2030,” explains Douglas Millican, chief executive of Scottish Water. “We are also advising Qatar on drainage and waste water services, helping Romania strengthen its regulatory framework and working with New Zealand on water reform.”
In Scotland, Scottish Water signed a historic sustainable growth agreement last year with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
Millican says: “This explores ways to increase the recovery of value from waste water, make more sustainable choices in the regulation and management of natural catchments, and to make Scottish cities more resilient to climate change.”