Principles for Water and Development

Many countries face a growing gap between the amount of water they can supply reliably to their economies and the amount they need. Assuming continued economic and population growth, by 2030 water supplies will satisfy only sixty percent of global demand and less than fifty percent in many developing regions where water supply is already under stress, including China, India, and South Africa. Closing the gap by increasing supply—through desalination, the drilling of deep wells, or transporting surface water—will be extremely difficult and expensive.

Inescapably, water will become a strategic factor for companies in most sectors. All businesses will need to conserve, and many will make a market in conservation. Tomorrow’s leaders in water productivity are getting into position today. More likely, governments will need to manage demand, either by raising the price of water or by capping the amount of it that users can draw.

Develop Water Management Programs. We help local and national governments assemble a fact base for decision making, craft strategies for stakeholder management, identify least-cost solutions through tailored cost curves, assess barriers and payback times, and produce practical implementation plans. For one country facing acute scarcity, we identified demand management solutions that would cover four-fifths of its supply gap at no cost, and helped rethink its agricultural strategy to build a water-efficient economy.

Transform Water and Waste Utilities. We help utilities transform their operations along the entire value chain of water, waste, and wastewater by optimizing elements such as network and pump station maintenance, pump energy efficiency, sludge treatment, waste asset configuration, aeration control, and support functions. 

Optimize Industrial Operations. We work with industrial companies to manage the costs and risks of water consumption and find solutions to water challenges beyond their own four walls. We have helped companies identify double-digit potential savings in indirect water costs and supported industrial operators attempting to secure reliable and sustainable water supplies. For companies striving to eliminate waste from their operations, we advise on identifying pain points, saving resources in the supply chain, and adapting product design to reduce materials requirements in manufacture.

Identify Profitable Investment Strategies. Although the $500 billion water market is growing fast and presents many opportunities for investment, profitable and addressable niches are hard to find. We help conduct technology and target scans for investors and entrants from adjacent businesses, and offer guidance on developing entry strategies, capturing opportunities, and building scale.

Capture the Potential of Waste Services Provision. We provide insights into the performance and costs of existing and emerging waste technologies and help public sector organizations develop and refine integrated waste management strategies. We also help national and local governments assess how recycled materials might contribute to resource management strategies and economic development targets.

Revolutionize Products and Systems. Most production and consumption systems in industrialized economies rely on the one-time use of resources. Only 20 out of 60 metals, for example, have an end-of-life recycling rate of 25 percent or more. We help companies devise product strategies and business models that capitalize on the enormous advantages offered by "closed loop" production and consumption systems, such as secure long-term access to resources.


Related Practices

Discover how we help clients identify, plan, finance, deliver, and operate infrastructure that delivers economic value.

Business Solutions

We help clients improve performance by designing portfolios—supported by resource reallocation, integrated strategies, and planning processes—that position them for success.

Submit an Inquiry