Over the past year and a half, I have worked closely with the Ontario government as they developed and implemented the Water Opportunities and Conservation Act. I must admit- when I first got involved as an industry advisor, I was sceptical (as were many of my industry colleagues) that the government would focus real attention on this case. Water is simply something most of us take for granted. To my surprise, after some hard work reconciling the diverse interest groups and drafting legislation, the Act became a reality in December 2010.
Then came the true test – what is even more important than the Act itself: putting it into practice. Now, almost a year later, work has started on many fronts and it is very encouraging to see benefits starting to take shape. Over the past nine months, Ontario has signed a research partnership with Singapore (one of the leading authorities on urban water management), allocated investment programs to help emerging companies demonstrate technology, started the process of upgrading water-related regulation, hosted a unique global water leaders’ summit on innovations, and officially formed the industry-led agency WaterTAP.
As one of the leading investors in water technology companies around the world, I get the privilege of engaging with a wide variety of audiences. The response of other jurisdictions, regulators, and industry leaders to Ontario’s new water Act proves the innovative, cutting-edge nature of this policy piece. Water companies from around the world are taking interest, entrepreneurs are relocating to Ontario, and experts from other regions are coming here to learn from and partner with us. The good news for Ontario is that this means new jobs, economic development and the assurance that we will have access to 21st century water infrastructure to serve our communities. Ontario, through its bold polices, is on a path to become a global leader for water innovation and the clean-tech jobs that come with it.
I am thoroughly impressed that we have decided to lead, leverage our amazing water innovation ecosystem and build an advanced water economy here in Ontario. I do believe that, over the long-term, how governments approach water will be the biggest factor in a region’s social, economic, and cultural success. If you have any doubt of this then just remember that water has no substitute: it is essential for all life on the planet and is mission critical to everything we produce and consume. Ontario, it seems, is taking seriously this reality.
David Henderson, Managing Director