As seen in the movie, Blue Gold: World Water Wars, the next world war is speculated to be fought over water. Water is nature’s most remarkable gift that has been a foundation of living . While it is a fact that water has become more precious and scarce especially in Korea, the term “water industry” is still a stranger to many. As a tactic to survive the possible shortage of water, Korean government has been working its way in developing its water industry by holding the 2015 World Water Forum (WWF) and improving technologies involving the water industry.
WF is the largest international event for water with over 190 countries and 30,000 participants involved. Its main goals include raising awareness on water issues, contributing to improvement in access to water supply in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and encouraging partnerships in water issues and solutions. As an organization that inaugurated in 1997 and has been helding every three years, it has been one huge step for Korea to have been selected as the next host for the upcoming event in 2015.
Water Industry Origins
The main purpose of the water industry is to provide drinking water and wastewater services to residential, commercial and industrial sectors in order to provide water security. Such importance was first emphasized by the United Kingdom (UK) in the the late 18th century when piped water was largely available to the population. By the 20th century, most people had sanitary water system with issues like water privatization becoming a rising problem.
Specifically in Korea, in order to combat its water deficiency, the government started its water resource development from the 1960s by establishing the Water Resources Corporation (K-Water). Up until the 1970s, Korea mainly focused on the construction of multipurpose dams in order to control and manage intense summer rainfalls and prevent floods. Starting from the 80s, the government mainly aimed to create stable water resource development by assessing water pollution and ensuring the stability of water supplies.
Currently, the shift has been dramatic in that the government is now focusing on the establishment of water industries as well as balancing out such development with the citizen’s demands and environment. Considering the fact that the growth of water business internationally is presumably four percent a year, Lee Kyung Suk, the head of publicity in WWF 2015 was very hopeful about Korea’s water industry’s development. “With Korea’s high IT technology and continuous support by the people and the government, we are expected to make the water industry as our creative economy and a blue ocean for our economic development,” said Lee.
Korean Water Industry
It is a fact that Korea is a country with high-quality water shortages. The Koreans are informed about this in government posters and in television shows. The government has been providing propaganda about this problem since the late 1980s and now, the shift has been from making people aware of the water shortage to developing water industries to satiate the shortage.
Korea’s water industry is estimated to be around 13.6 trillion won with more than 80 percent of its venue coming from water supply and sewage. Although the water supply, seawater desalination and drinking water are competitive compared to the international markets, novel material and water pipe network management sectors are still in their baby steps. “Although some sectors are still developing, we strongly believe that the prospect of water industry is very bright,” said Lee.
▲ Picture of president Lee Jung Mu. Provided by the World Water Forum
Especially since the decision was made that the next WWF will be held in Korea, the Korean government has worked its way to develop the water industry in many sectors. The first step that it took was to hold conventions and expos that introduce the water industries in Korea. For instance, in the upcoming October, a water expo will be held in Daegu where the WWF will be held as well and this expo will be focusing on the introduction of water industries that have been under the curtains in the Korean society.
Additionally, there has been government’s attention in improving the technology for water pipe industry and water sanitary systems for the people. With many considering Arisu, the national tab water in which the government says is safe to drink, a failure, the government is trying to shift Although the prospect of the water industry is bright, there has still been major criticism in the water industries because water has always been, until recently, considered as the property of the people. Therefore, critics sometimes refer the water industry as bloody water.
As the basic need for human life, many criticize that money should not be a form that would threaten the lives of human beings. With industries monopolizing the supply of water, there are concerns about how much the power of capitalism should take place in the public sectors.
In order to prevent private sectors from monopolizing the water industry, the government tried to provide equal opportunities for water for the people through making tap water drinkable. “If students think about the water industry, they automatically imagine the new form of oil monopolization that would eventually take over the flow of business of countries." said Lee.
However, the consequences of the water industries are overly exaggerated. “Water itself has numerous sectors that includes water purification, wastewater disposal, development of water resources and so on. There are sectors that have strong public characteristics but it is mistaken to overgeneralize the water industry with some of the sectors becoming inevitable from becoming industrialized,” commented Lee.
In order for the water industry of Korea to properly develop, many argue that there must be transparent think tanks around the world that would manage it. The WWF works in order provide such transparency and management by creating multinational policies that would cover the policies that would be made in the water industries all over the world.
World Water Forum 2015
▲ Poster of the documentary directed by Sam Bozzo.Provided by http://evesale.blogspot.kr/2010/10/documentary-review-2-blue-gold.html
Daegu and Gyeongsang North Province were officially nominated as the host for WWF 2015 with its continuous effort from 2009 when the fifth WWF was held in Turkey. Since then, led by the formal Prime Minister, Han Seung Soo, the effort to win the bid for the WWF 2015 was done in a national level. “We created the seventh World Water Forum bidding committee in 2010 and after conducting a due diligence of the seven cities in Korea, Daegu and Gyeongsang North Province created a splendid feat of becoming the next venue,” said Lee.
Such achievements also came with unforeseen benefits. By holding the largest international event on water, Korea’s status in the global society regarding water related issues enhanced. “Since 2015 is the year when the United Nations MDG expire, the WWF forum will be more significant because the countries will be accessing the development that the world had in 15 years in water sanitation and would be discussing post-MDGs in the forum,”said Lee. So far, the water industry in Korea is on its baby steps getting ready to climb by taking careful attention to the possibilities and risks. By holding the next WWF and with the government’s ambition to invest more on developing such industries, Korea’s water industry is likely to have a bright prospect.