Canadian Water Network

Canadian Water Network

March 18, 2013 08:00 ET

Is Canada Prepared to Lead in a World Where Water is the New Global Currency?

Is resource development at odds with water protection? Is water the new global currency? What is Canada's role in feeding the world?

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 18, 2013) - Public and private sector business leaders, researchers and water experts are kicking off Canada Water Week with Canadian Water Network's Connecting Water Resources 2013: Changing the Water Paradigm conference (March 18-21, 2013, Ottawa) to discuss distinctly Canadian answers to growing global challenges: how can we innovate to better manage our water resources, feed and power the world, and ensure safe drinking amidst growing uncertainty and risk?

Water resources play a crucial role in driving global economic growth in key sectors such as agriculture and resource development, as well as advancing social welfare and quality of life. However, global water challenges such as declining water quality and supply, climate change, population growth and subsequent pressures on food production, and dated municipal infrastructures can pose a significant threat to the sustainability of industries, businesses, cities and its people.

"There are many who see the global water crisis as rife with challenges and doomsday predictions," says Bernadette Conant, Executive Director of Canadian Water Network. "We need to shift our perspective on these water issues, and seize the opportunities for innovation that tackling these challenges can present to Canada when we connect the key ideas and people. Viewing both domestic and global water issues through this lens will help drive important conversations forward and push Canada to the forefront of sustainable water management."

Canadian Water Network, one of Canada's federally-supported Networks of Centres of Excellence, has invested more than $50 million dollars in the last decade to advance the research being done to develop more resilient, adaptive systems and frameworks to deal with the uncertainty and risks related to water.

"Given our stewardship of a significant portion of the global water supply, and our strong expertise in water management and science, Canada is in a position to be a global leader," says Peter Steblin, Chair of the Board for Canadian Water Network. "But it requires a great deal of public and private sector commitment and a willingness to approach water challenges from a new perspective - one that recognizes sustainable water management as a value, not as a cost."

Canadian Water Network's Connecting Water Resources 2013 conference in Ottawa this week brings together a network of world-class water experts, academics, and private and public sector leaders to address current and emerging water challenges affecting key areas:

Resource Development: Oil and gas, mining, and forestry sectors comprise almost 20 per cent of Canada's GDP. These sectors are increasingly under global scrutiny as Canada's natural resource exports grow. What must Canada's resource development sector do to improve its record on water use and protection, and its standing globally? How can more sustainable practices in these sectors build the foundation for Canada to lead a Blue Economy?

Municipal Water Management: The development of water systems in cities around the world date back almost a century. With Canada's municipal water infrastructure deficit at more than $80 billion, according to the 2012 Canadian Infrastructure Report Card by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, it is indicative that many municipalities have likely made very little progress in upgrading water management systems to accommodate rapid urbanization. What are the implications for public health and safety, urban planning, and climate change and risk management?

Agriculture and Food Production: Abundant agricultural resources in Canada have allowed the country to become the world's breadbasket, standing as one of the top global exporters of wheat, canola and beef, according to Statistics Canada. How will water management approaches and new technologies help Canadian farmers and food processors sustain long-term production of exports to satisfy the growing global population and demand for food?

"Each region and industry is affected by unique water challenges and opportunities. It isn't about building a better faucet; it's about looking at the heart of what the issues are today and how these will evolve in future. By connecting water experts, industry and business leaders, policy makers and researchers, we can collaboratively identify the underlying water challenges to establish economically viable models for sustainable water management that organizations and countries around the world can adapt and build on," notes Margaret Catley-Carlson, Patron of the Global Water Partnership.

The Ottawa conference will be attended by leading experts and organizations to highlight new ways of looking at water issues, climate change and risk management challenges, and identify new approaches and technologies for sustainable water management.

Experts available for commentary on key topics covered during the event, and the broader water challenges and opportunities facing Canada include:

  • Dr. Erwann Michel-Kerjan, Advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wharton University expert on risk management and the impact of climate and water-related disasters on businesses, our economy and social health.

  • Margaret Catley-Carlson, Patron, Global Water Partnership on the big picture of agriculture and food production

  • Honourable Michael Miltenberger, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, and Minister Responsible for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, is one of the longest serving Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

  • Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations, advocates First Nations engagement with all sectors of Canadian society.

  • Helmi Ansari, Director of Sustainability and Organizational Capability at PepsiCo Foods Canada.

  • Nicholas Parker, Chairman, Cleantech Group LLC and Senior Advisor of Blue Economy Initiative to discuss the concept of 'clean capitalism'

  • Michael D'Andrea, City of Toronto Water, Infrastructure Challenges

  • Jean-Francois Barsoum, Senior Managing Consultant of Smart Cities (Water and Transportation) at IBM specializing in urban innovation and the impact of climate change.

  • William Cosgrove, Senior Research Scholar, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Project Director, Global Water Scenarios Project

  • Don Lowry, President & CEO Emeritus of EPCOR, a North American water and power company.

  • Simon Courtenay, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Research Scientist, Canadian Rivers Institute, University of New Brunswick

For a complete list of keynote speakers and conference session details, visit and follow Canadian Water Network @CdnWaterNetwork for the latest news from the event.

About Canadian Water Network (CWN)

Headquartered at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canadian Water Network ( was created in 2001 by the Networks of Centres of Excellence Program to connect international water researchers with decision-makers engaged in priority water management issues. Canadian Water Network works to unite the expertise of researchers, practitioners and implementers to respond to water challenges.

Contact Information