03/12/2012 06:04
Landau: We will challenge other countries to double their rate of sewage treatment by 2025.
Energy, Water Minister Uzi Landau at press confere By Gidon Sharon
Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau will head to the Mediterranean coastal city of Marseilles, France, on Monday to take part in the Sixth World Water Forum, where he will chair a high-level intergovernmental session on wastewater management the following day.

The Sixth World Water Forum, with this year’s theme being “Time for Solutions,” will take place from March 12 through 17, following the fifth such forum that occurred in Istanbul in 2009. Held every three years since 1997, the forum aims to “mobilize creativity, innovation, competence and know-how in favor of water” by bringing together industry stakeholders from around the globe, according to its organizers. The sixth forum will particularly focus on making water a higher priority on countries’ political agendas.

The forum is organized by the International Forum Committee, run by Prof. Benedito Braga, and brings together the World Water Council – financed by international membership fees and support from the city of Marseilles – and the French National Committee. More than 180 countries will attend this year’s forum, with over 25,000 participants and 140 ministerial delegations in total, according to the forum.

Landau will co-chair a roundtable on wastewater management on Tuesday morning alongside Singaporean Environment and Water Resources Minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan.

Notable participants will also include the Prince of Orange, Willem-Alexander, who also serves as the chair of the United Nation’s Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), as well as Israel Water Authority head Alex Kushnir, Singapore’s Public Utilities Board chief executive Chew Men Leong and government delegates from other countries.

During the session, Landau and Balakrishnan will address topics of water recycling and restoration, and representatives from various nations will present the status of wastewater management and reuse modes in their countries, as well as the individual obstacles that they face, according to the Energy and Water Ministry. Participants from 16 nongovernmental organizations, including Israel’s national water company Mekorot, will also respond to key questions about water situation.

The session will conclude with a special Israel presentation about agriculture and a Singaporean talk on urban water management solutions.

“Israel is pioneering in the fields of water technology, conservation, proper management of the resource and efficient and maximum use,” Landau said in a statement released by his office.

“We have pride in this, and we have much to offer. We are considered the leaders in the world in terms of wastewater treatment, and about 93 percent of Israeli wastewater is treated, with about 80% of it restored for reuse. We intend to present at the conference the revolution that has passed through Israel in recent years and to challenge the member countries at the forum to double sewage treatment by the year 2025.”

During the water forum, Landau will also meet with Antoine Ferot, president of French transportation company VEOLIA, as well as other leading global figures in the water industry, the ministry said. He will inaugurate the Israeli pavilion assembled by the Foreign Ministry at the forum’s exhibition center, will attend business meetings between Israeli and French innovators and will host an event for the Jewish community of Marseilles.

“We will offer Israeli expertise toward improving the water markets of countries around the world, with the goal of opening more and more doors for Israeli companies to create relationships with foreign companies and implement international projects,” Landau said.

Following the forum, Landau will also head to Paris to meet with France Electricity CEO Henri Proglio, according to the ministry. While in France, Landau also expects to fly to Strasbourg to meet with European Commission for Energy Issues Gunther Oettinger, as well as European Parliament chairman of the Foreign Committee Elmar Brok and European Parliament chairman for Industry, Research and Energy Amalia Satori.

In addition to Landau’s roundtable, many other sessions throughout the week are relevant to Israel, including one panel entitled, “Cooperation on Data Collection on Water Resources for Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians.”

Other pertinent sessions include those on desalination in Gaza, groundwater and climate change in Mediterranean coastal aquifers, the use of non-conventional water resources in the Mediterranean, green growth in the Mediterranean and environmental changes in the region.