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Denmark and US join forces in the water sector’s race to zero

In paving the way for a resilient, net zero water sector, the US Water Alliance, the Embassy of Denmark in Washington DC, and the Danish Water and Wastewater Association signed a new collaboration agreement on 27 April. The agreement supports transatlantic efforts to lower climate impacts in the water sector and underscores the importance of international partnerships to advance a climate secure future.

About the US Water Alliance

The US Water Alliance advances policies and programs to secure a sustainable water future for all. Established in 2008, the Alliance is a nationally recognized non-profit organization that educates the nation on the value of water, accelerates the adoption of One Water policies and programs, and celebrates innovation in water management. The Alliance brings together diverse interests to identify and advance common-ground, achievable solutions to our nation’s most pressing water challenges. Our membership includes water providers, public officials, business leaders, environmental organizations, community leaders, policy organizations, and more.

Read more about the US Water Alliance here

Water is essential to our lives. From community wellbeing to sustaining ecosystems to powering economies, we all rely on water. While climate impacts often manifest in water, the way we manage water also plays an essential role in mitigating the climate crisis.

On 27 April, the US Water Alliance, the Embassy of Denmark in Washington, and the Danish Water and Wastewater Association (DANVA), announced and signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The agreement aims to promote cross-cultural learning on climate mitigation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across water management and operations.

Henrik Bramsen Hahn, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Denmark in Washington, states:

“Partnering with the US Water Alliance and the organization’s inspiring work to further the US water sector’s Race to Zero is a great privilege. The climate crisis does not recognize borders, and global partnerships are crucial in the effort to mitigate climate change. Denmark is committed to share our decades of experience with optimizing water management, and we are eager to bring inspiration from our US partners back home. We look forward to collaborating with both utilities and federal, state, and local governments all over the US. Together we can pave the way towards a more sustainable future.”

Globally, water use and management is estimated to be responsible for up to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that energy consumption used for drinking water and wastewater services emits more than 45 million tons of greenhouse gas annually in the US alone.

Therefore, the new transatlantic partnership aims to strengthen the water sector’s toolbox in order to break the curve. Specifically, the partners will explore opportunities for carbon sequestration, emissions reductions and offsets, energy optimization, and much more to support net zero water goals across the US.

We need all hands on deck

At the signing ceremony, Mami Hara, CEO of the US Water Alliance, a national non-profit organisation, joined Mr. Hahn and several water professionals from both sides of the Atlantic for a roundtable discussion. She, too, underlined the importance of international collaboration as a tool to reach net zero. Mrs. Hara explains:

“With less than a decade for meaningful climate action, we need all hands on deck to keep the planet’s warming below 1.5˚C. As water leaders around the world step up to this challenge, we can learn from each other in real-time. We are excited to work closely with our new Danish partners to share best practices, innovate together, and accelerate Net Zero emissions goals.”

In 2021, US Water Alliance founded an Imagination Team, including representatives from over 35 organizations to develop “Net Zero Plus,” a shared vision and transformation to a climate-neutral US water sector by 2050. The effort kicked off with an International Water and Climate Mitigation Symposium to learn from international water pioneers, including Denmark, about ongoing research for emissions from water and to discover mitigation strategies that might be transferrable to the US.

The new MoU will support the alliance’s most recent national effort to implement the Net Zero Plus vision, a 10-City Utility GHG Reduction Cohort. The partnership will ground the peer-learning cohort in cross-cultural knowledge exchange and collaboration to advance shared goals of a climate secure future and resilient global water sector. By learning from Danish counterparts, utilities in the US will have access to additional expertise, ideas, and strategies being implemented in real-time. The Danish water sector is already well on its way to reaching climate-positive and energy-neutral water sector by 2030 — targets that support the Danish government’s strategy to reduce emissions by 70 percent by 2030.

Peer to peer knowledge-exchange

At the front and center of the new collaboration is sharing experience and expertise during peer learning exchanges. Activities will be facilitated through the Danish Water Technology Alliance, anchored at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Additionally, the agreement will launch a close dialogue on regulatory frameworks for GHG reductions in water, national benchmarking systems, and Paris Agreement models for climate action through water. CEO of DANVA, Carl-Emil Larsen finishes:

“The agreement between the US Water Alliance, the Danish Water Technology Alliance, the Embassy of Denmark, and DANVA is an important step for the water sectors in the two countries to achieve the goal of becoming climate neutral. The degree of success in limiting emissions of GHG depends on the results we can achieve across national borders. No country, no sector, and no human being can solve the challenge alone. We look forward to collaborating with our colleagues in the US”

About the Danish Water Technology Alliance

The Danish Water Technology Alliance (WTA) is a Danish public-private partnership committed to bridging the gap between the North American and Danish water sectors to share Danish know-how and foster collaboration. The Alliance is a part of The Trade Council at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, and the partners include public Danish water utilities, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, and leading technology and service providers. Through visits, workshops and fact-finding trips, the WTA provides specialized knowledge about Danish solutions. Furthermore, the WTA facilitates and supports collaboration, pilot- and flagship projects.

Read more about the Danish Water Technology Alliance

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Ensuring water security for a growing world

22 April 2022
Achieving a sustainable balance between supply and demand and making sure we have enough water – of the right quality – for the purpose for which it is needed is key to achieving water security for our growing world. However, with the judicious application of smart technologies, sound policy-making, workable regulations, collaboration between the public and private sector and an appreciation of the real cost of water, it is possible to achieve this goal.