Circular Economy Leaders Summit 2017
As demand for water increases worldwide, the challenges faced by companies and governments range from maintaining centuries-old infrastructure to designing utilities resilient to rising populations and climate change. These challenges are often compounded by the fact that – in traditional sectors with legacy systems like water – new ideas and business models can take time to test and break through.
For many, the biggest hurdle is finding the right partners to turn a good idea into a viable business proposition. So when Jim Panton, President of the Institute of Water, opened last week’s Circular Economy Leaders Summit (CELS) to glorious Edinburgh sunshine, he was keen to emphasise the need to regularly combine youth and experience for greater impact.
The summit came as part of efforts by the Scottish Government to enable Scottish innovation and technology to contribute to solving global problems, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and follows on from pilot events run by FutureX in Scotland and India last year. With summit sponsors like The Institute of Water and Veolia interested in maintaining momentum, the FutureX team hopes that more summits and ‘Connect Days’ will follow.
Two common threads of discussion throughout the summit were (1) how to meet the humanitarian need for water with sustainable business models and (2) how to generate meaningful cooperation between the many related sectors, from energy to agriculture.
FutureX partner Adam Purvis designed the programme so that participants could “get their hands dirty” and immediately apply learning and inspiration from the experts presentations to group exercises and discussions. Under the mantra “what if we could redesign everything?”, participants were asked questions about the change they want to see in the world and provided with toolkits, such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s ReSOLVE framework, to help bring their ambitions to fruition.
Sandy Roger – The Toilet Board
“I saw today the tremendous energy for new ideas and new collaborations. What I saw was people facing the circular economy in a practical way, looking at the incremental steps and projects that can be taken on.
This is a lot about leadership and people having the courage to throw themselves into it and start to solve the problems. We don’t know all the answers and you don’t know exactly where you are going to end up. So you do need the guts to throw yourselves in and make a start and I saw people here today really doing that. This is the kind of spirit we are going to need whether it is in Scotland or the developing world. We need the people with the courage to get stuck in because it is a learning process and we don’t have the answers today and we need the people with the willingness to experiment.”
Viki Taylor – Head of Water Resources Unit – SEPA
“My main take away from today, I am overwhelmed by the level of innovation and passion that is here in the water industry to make major changes and how when you bring the right people together those changes really start to happen.”
Nicola McFarlane – Head of Assurance at Veolia Water (North) (Programme Sponsors)
“The day has been brilliant the energy has been absolutely fantastic. For me it is now about what we do next to take this forward – we have all shared ideas, we have been inspired by what is possible, the intent and the passion is there, what matters now is that we continue to connect with each other and take this all forward.. “
Fran Van Dijk – Partner at One Stone Advisors
“The key lessons I walked away with today were to drop all your assumptions, be as open minded as you can and think big. Listen to the people that you least expect to get the good ideas from and an understanding of how we can develop communities that make this possible.”
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