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Denmark’s water solutions can catalyse change across the world

On 11-15 September 2022, more than 8000 leading figures in the water sector joined the International Water Association’s World Water Congress & Exhibition in Copenhagen. To share key insights and takeaways from this year’s congress, State of Green spoke to Anders Bækgaard, Congress President of IWA Denmark 2022.
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23 September 2022

As the largest IWA Congress to date, politicians, and practitioners from all over the world discussed water as a key to deliver on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals. Throughout the week, both keynote speakers and delegates unanimously agreed to approach water as a key action point for addressing climate challenges and as a key enabler for a sustainable future. We have the solutions at hand, but they need to be scaled and shared across borders.

RELATED NEWS: Politics and practice connect around water as a key to act on climate change

State of Green sat down with Anders Bækgaard, Congress President of IWA Denmark 2022, to discuss the world’s water challenges and how Danish solutions can help tackle these.

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Global water challenges

It is no secret that the world is facing multiple urgent climate challenges. This summer especially, we have witnessed immense droughts across the world. More people than ever are struggling to get access to clean drinking water and sanitation. These challenges call for urgent action.

As Anders Bækgaard sees it, we are facing two overarching challenges. Referring to Professor Jason Box’s opening speech, he says: “Firstly, climate change is developing more rapidly than we could ever imagine. This is a problem for all of us, and Professor Jason Box framed it quite well by starting his speech with: Why are we here? And what can we do together to stop the climate change, and slow down the development of it?”

“Secondly, if you ask me what the most urgent problem is today, I will answer: We haven’t managed to solve the water sanitation problems in many low-income countries – and we still have more than a billion people who do not have access to clean water and sanitation. We have talked about these issues ever since I started in the business 45 years ago. At this year’s conference, I felt the challenges were taken more seriously than ever before.”

Continuing the list of concerns, Anders Bækgaard points to the concerning fact that a substantial number of children in low-income countries die before their one-year birthday.

“Water-related issues have improved, but we still have a lot of people who don’t have access to clean drinking water and sanitation in low-income countries. That is why we still see a lot of children die before the age of one. In my opinion, we can’t justify those numbers to ourselves, especially not in Denmark. We are privileged to live in an affluent society, but in places like Southeast Asia, Africa and South America, there are still huge unsolved problems.”

Denmark has the solutions

Denmark has a long history of effective water management and 50 years of experience with the green transition. Copenhagen is a liveable, blue, and green city introducing smart integrated water solutions, climate resilient neighbourhoods, and harbours clean enough for its city dwellers to swim in. On top, the Danes drink groundwater directly from the tap thanks to efficient wastewater treatment. As a living water laboratory, Denmark has a lot to offer other countries to meet their global climate and sustainability goals.

“Denmark is a front-runner when it comes to treating wastewater, providing safe drinking water, hygiene, and climate change adaptation. If you look at the international assessments – on the United Nations 2030 agenda – we will find Denmark as number one and two every year.”, said Anders Bækgaard, and continued:

“In Denmark, we have a lot of solutions, but we must admit that Denmark – if you look at the population size – is no larger than Munich and its suburbs. We can’t solve all the problems in the world, but we can provide and innovate technical solutions which can catalyse the process. We can export highly advanced solutions and thereby impact other countries positively. Grundfos, for instance, is working hard on developing solar powered water pumps that which can deliver reliable water supply in countries in the Global South.”.

Explore Denmark’s many water solutions.

What is the IWA `Water Congress?

The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition is the global event for water professionals covering the full water cycle. As the Congress rotates through cities and countries each event has an extra emphasis on issues of specific interest to the region.

World Water Congress & Exhibition

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