The role of water during Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2023

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum made up of 21 member economies that border the Pacific Ocean. For the past 34 years, APEC’s primary goal has been to promote economic cooperation and integration in the Asia-Pacific region. The member economies are quite diverse and together they account for nearly 40 percent of the global population, almost 50 percent of global trade, and more than 60 percent of U.S. goods exports.

This year, San Francisco played host to APEC events, a city that claims title to the fourth largest economic region in the U.S., and where innovation and sustainability are at the forefront of businesses and policy making. A fitting host city considering the theme of this year’s conference was “creating a resilient and sustainable future for all.”

APEC works to address environmental and sustainability issues, recognizing the importance of responsible economic development. This includes efforts to promote sustainable business practices, strengthen environmental conservation, and address climate change. As 1,200 global CEOs, 600 media personnel and nearly 30,000 delegates descended on the city by the bay, it was an especially exciting week for the Epic Cleantec team as we were featured prominently throughout the multi-day confab.

Advancing water reuse solutions through education

As water scarcity mounts globally due to climate change, Epic’s efforts are helping catalyze change in how water reuse is considered by business leaders, regulatory bodies, and the general public. Epic has played an active role in helping advance water reuse regulations in cities and states across the country. Since announcing San Francisco’s first permitted greywater reuse operation, Epic has hosted nearly 100 tours across our various projects for policymakers, industry leaders and real estate leaders, expanding the knowledge and understanding of  onsite reuse and its potential for cities.

A few members of a tour of Epic Cleantec's office during APEC 2023

During the week of APEC, we partnered with the San Francisco Department of the Environment to host local and international journalists as well as city leaders on a tour of our Epic operation. One of our core missions at Epic is to advance the knowledge of water reuse solutions and this opportunity led to several media pieces highlighting our innovative technology, including features from KTVU and The SF Standard.

Putting water on the main stage

Our population is rapidly expanding, yet one in four people globally still lack access to clean, safe drinking water. Many cities are struggling to keep up with the combined challenges of aging water infrastructure, growing urban populations, and an unpredictable climate. As drought and climate-caused natural disasters diminish freshwater sources and disrupt infrastructure, with nearly 70% of the world’s population predicted to be living in urban areas by 2050, cities need new and better ways to manage water.

Epic’s Co-Founder and CEO, Aaron Tartakovsky, took the stage during the APEC CEO Summit, alongside global leaders Nick Clegg of Meta and Manny Maceda of Bain & Company to discuss the need to foster innovation and champion entrepreneurship in the public-private sector. “The number of ethnic conflicts around the world where the lack of access to water or the prevention of access to water is a key contributor,” said Aaron. “We need to be working together and I think that’s why we’re here…. We’re going to need all hands-on deck to solve this.”

During the panel, moderated by CNBC contributor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Aaron shared how the local San Francisco government, regulators and private sector all worked together to come up with a policy framework to lessen the impact of water use in buildings by requiring onsite reuse systems in new construction. The challenge is that changing policies in highly regulated industries isn’t as simple as launching a new app. “These industries have a direct implication on public health, so you need government, and you need regulation,” said Aaron. “But you also need some bold thinkers that are willing to try new things.”

One example of a bold new idea is turning recycled water into a beer. Our viral Epic OneWater Brews made an appearance on the main APEC CEO Summit stage with panelists trying the beer. Watch as Aaron, Michelle, Manny, and Nick take a cheers to innovation with recycled water beers:

Other topics discussed during the panel were not limited to:

  • The importance of creating “think spaces” that entrepreneurs and innovators can utilize to create and try new ideas;
  • How AI will impact businesses for the better;
  • The global impact of climate change and water;
  • The innovation of regulation and how accelerators and incubators are being funded by governments and large corporations together;
  • How APEC plays a key role in enhancing the business environment by promoting policies that simplify and harmonize regulations

Watch the full session below:


Highlighting innovation and local entrepreneurs

Recognizing local visionaries and entrepreneurs helps elevate San Francisco as a top innovator destination. The media plays a key role in accelerating these stories, and Epic was proud to have been invited to participate in the official media reception for the week of APEC.

It was an honor to exhibit our technology and share our recycled water beers at a reception in San Francisco City Hall, in partnership with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the City and County of San Francisco, and sponsored by Bloomberg. The event brought together CEOs, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and more while highlighting San Francisco as the “City of Firsts” when it comes to innovation.

We are thankful to Mayor London Breed, Deloitte, Salesforce, UpLink – World Economic Forum, the Yes SF challenge, and many others for their constant support of sustainable innovation in our city! Other sponsors of the event included Deloitte, Nixon Peabody, Astranis, Golden State National Park Conservatory, UCSF, Bank of America, Visa, and David Perry & Associates. We are grateful for opportunities to contribute to the conversation around water sustainability on such a prestigious platform.

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