“Nature or Water, exploring how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century“ is the theme of this year‘s World Water Day which is on 22 March. The scientific discipline of biomimicry employs the same approach.
Biomimicry = nature’s genius
“Every so often an idea comes around that is a game changer. After we hear it and understand it, we never see the world quite the same ever again. Biomimicry is such an idea,“ says Claire Janisch, the founder of BiomimicrySA. She adds: “it shows us that genius solutions to our challenges already exist. Right outside, in nature. Tested over eons.“
Claire is a keynote speaker at African Utility Week, taking place from 15-17 May in Cape Town, with a presentation entitled: Biomimicry: Learn from and emulate nature’s genius to create more sustainable designs. She explains: “when you realise that the simple act of learning from and emulating nature’s time tested genius is so profoundly impactful, it’s one of the most inspiring approaches to Africa’s big challenges. I will share case studies and core principles to illustrate this.“
“Our vision is that the designers of our world – and particularly the designers of our infrastructure – look to natural systems as model, measure and mentor to design abundant and resilient cities that function like natural ecosystems.“
Cape Town not unique
African Utility Week will also focus strongly on water challenges on the continent, including investment needed in water solutions by the public and private sectors to enable universal access, water security and resilient societies. The water conference will furthermore showcase how partnerships, financial models and latest technological advances can make the greatest impact in meeting Africa’s water demand.
“What is happening in Cape Town could happen anywhere,” says water expert Paul Yillia about the current water shortage in the Mother City. A guest research scholar (Water Programme) at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria and formerly part of the Global Facilitation Team at Sustainable Energy for ALL (SEforALL) focusing on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, Paul returns as chairman of the water conference track at African Utility Week.
He explains: “as populations in cities grow and economic activities increase, the demand for water will continue to increase. If we now factor in climate change and extreme weather events such as prolonged heat waves and droughts, all of this will put additional pressure on water availability both on the supply and demand side. This is not unique to Cape Town. Utilities worldwide should take the threats posed by climate change much more seriously and focus additional resources on adaptation measures to cope with water security challenges that will be exacerbated by climate change.”
African Utility Week’s water conference programme topics and highlights include:
• World Bank Report on latest status on water infrastructure projects
• What is the impact of conflict and governance towards meeting Africa’s water demand?
• Exploring the impact of climate change on Africa’s water demand
• Panel discussion: How is the City of Cape Town working towards shifting cultural behaviour of water consumption?
• Roundtable with country spotlight sessions, sharing investment opportunities and projects that are making the greatest difference to Africa’s water sector. Countries in focus will be Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Egypt, Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, Singapore, Dubai, Denmark, Singapore and Israel.
• A debate on the pricing methods for the continent’s water
• Panel discussion: What does a bankable project look like in the water sector?
The full interviews with Claire Janisch, Paul Yillia and more expert speakers can be read here on the event website.
Event going ahead as planned
Meanwhile, the organisers of African Utility Week have assured all stakeholders in this long running conference and exhibition that the event will go ahead as planned despite the current water restrictions in Cape Town.
“As a major event in the City, African Utility Week plays a crucial role in contributing towards the in-ward bound travel market,” says event director Evan Schiff, “by holding the event as planned, African Utility Week will continue to support the Cape Town economy as we cannot allow for there to be massive job losses on top of a water constrained situation.”
Award-winning energy platform
The 18th annual, multi-award winning African Utility Week will gather over 7000 decision makers from more than 80 countries to discuss the challenges, solutions and successes in the power, energy and water sectors on the continent. Along with multiple side events and numerous networking functions the event also boasts a seven track conference with over 300 expert speakers.
The African Utility Week expo offers an extensive technical workshop programme that are CPD accredited, free to attend, hands-on presentations that take place in defined spaces on the exhibition floor. They discuss practical, day-to-day technical topics, best practices and product solutions that businesses, large power users and utilities can implement in their daily operations.
African Utility Week has already secured important industry support including Landis+Gyr, Hexing and Eskom Rotek Industries as platinum sponsors and SAP, Sensus, Utility Systems and Aberdare as gold sponsors.
Dates for African Utility Week:
Conference and expo: 15-17 May 2018
Awards gala dinner: 16 May 2018
Site visits: 18 May 2018
Location: CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa