Thought Leadership
At the UN Water Conference, I saw the world supercharge action on water

By Aaron Tartakovsky

Although 1 in 4 people globally lack access to clean and reliable drinking water, less than 2% of the $70 billion invested in climate tech last year went toward water solutions. That urgently needs to change if we want to improve sustainable, long-term access to clean water.

The good news is that I witnessed an exciting shift in the narrative at the UN 2023 Water Conference, the first such global convening in 46 years. While at the conference, I was honored to represent Epic Cleantec both as one of ten “aquapreneur” winners of the Freshwater Innovation Challenge organized by World Economic Forum and HCL Tech, and as an alumni company of the world-leading Imagine H2O water accelerator. 

I also participated in the 50L Home Coalition’s panel to discuss ensuring water resilience and security with public-private collaborations. Coupled with significant investment announcements, the discussions throughout the conference proved that representatives across the private and public sectors are substantially increasing their commitment to addressing these challenges.

Accelerating Water Action (With the Aid of Beer)

The good news is that solutions to our growing water shortages exist today. What we need now is action: resources, funding, and programs that scale these technologies at a pace that matches the level of urgency. Epic is proud to be one of many water industry leaders who have worked behind the scenes for years to advance new water technology solutions and pioneer new regulatory frameworks.

The World Economic Forum’s UpLink Program convened a welcome meeting with many of the leading voices, funders, and organizations ready to put serious resources behind their commitments to accelerating water security. 

With the kind permission of our hosts at the World Economic Forum, I also had the pleasure of serving attendees a sample of Epic’s OneWater Brew, a craft beer made with highly purified recycled water from one of our building sites in downtown San Francisco. Nothing like a crisp, Kölsch-style ale to highlight the untapped potential of water reuse and the novel ways we can tell the water story!

The Power of Public-Private Water Alliances

In a highly regulated space like water and wastewater, collaboration between public and private entities is critical. That’s why Epic prioritizes working with regulators and public officials to help inform new policy frameworks that allow for the deployment of novel technological solutions.

I was especially glad to participate in the panel presented by 50L Home Coalition, an initiative that puts innovative ideas into action by turning cities into living laboratories. This coalition brings together for-profit, nonprofit, and government organizations to pilot new and well-tested approaches that make cities more sustainable. 

The session was kicked off by Braulio Morera, Director of the 50L Home Coalition, and was followed by an informative panel discussion between Mayor Kate Gallego from the City of Phoenix, Virginie Helias from Procter & Gamble, Mardi Ditze from IKEA Ingka Group US, Rebecca Ilunga from C40 Cities, and Christian Kaufholz from the World Economic Forum. 

I then participated in a panel with Tara Helms from Electrolux Group, Sarah Musiker from Flume Water, and Ben Stapleton from USGBC-Los Angeles, moderated by Anusha Shah from Arcadis. We’re looking forward to working with the 50L home coalition and more partnerships like theirs in the future. 

A Watershed Moment for Water Solutions

Talking about water innovation is a great start. Now it’s time to put those words into action. The UN Water Conference has reconvened not a moment too soon: the last 46 years have seen a doubling of the world’s population, rapid urbanization, and a shrinking of the world’s freshwater resources even as our water needs grow. 

The attention that water solutions, including onsite water reuse, have received from major stakeholders around the world has energized me and the Epic team. We look forward to harnessing this momentum and accelerating the march towards clean water for all.

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