24/07/2018 – News / Innovation / Science & Technology / Water Purification / Bluewater

Bluewater underlines need to fast-track solutions tackling urban drinking water scarcity

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Leading water purification technologies and solutions company Bluewater has said that applications for its Imagine H2O Urban Drinking Water Scarcity Challenge 2018 have exceeded all expectations in terms of quantity and quality of registrations. Designed to inspire innovation and action in order to help cities deal with drinking water scarcity, the Challenge offers up to a total US$1 million in deployment awards and potential follow-on investment. However, the Stockholm-headquartered water tech leader cautioned that the threat of growing urban water scarcity demands even more of a concerted effort by governments and business.

“Management of urban water is already a serious challenge in many parts of the world, as shrinking water availability and growing urban populations face a future of severe water shortages unless we harness human ingenuity to tackle the problems,” said Bluewater founder and CEO, Bengt Rittr, who has called for more focus on long-term partnerships between the public and private sectors to solve drinking water scarcity. 


Mr Rittri noted how the United Nations has predicted that mass urbanisation will see 68 per cent of the world population living in urban areas by 2050 and that there will already be a 40 per cent global water supply shortfall by 2030.

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Bengt Rittr, Bluewater founder and CEO

Inspiring urban water scarcity action


Bluewater partnered with 11th Hour Racing – a US organisation that establishes strategic partnerships to promote collaborative, systemic change benefiting the health of our ocean – to launch the Challenge, with the aim of inspiring urban water scarcity action under the auspices of Imagine H2O, the global water innovation accelerator.


Entrepreneurs from over 25 countries, including the United States, South Africa, India, the UK and Uganda, have entered a diverse range of promising solutions related to Alternative Supply, Distributed Access and Delivery and, Ecosystem Health. The Imagine H2O Urban Drinking Water Scarcity Challenge is now closed to entries and winners will be honoured at a special event at Stockholm Water Week on 27th August 2018.


“Already cities like Cape Town and elsewhere are battling water scarcity at levels that threaten human health and wellbeing, and we are pleased that that the Challenge has seen real solutions being put forward to deal with an already pressing real life problem,” said Bluewater President Anders Jacobson.

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Anders Jacobson, Bluewater President

The thirst for urbanisation


Certainly, cities are becoming thirstier – a 50-per-cent increase in urban water demands is anticipated within the next 30 years, according to the World Bank. Rapid urban population growth, economic expansion and competing demands are increasing thirst and tightening the availability of water in areas where water scarcity is already a reality.


Globally, more people live in urban areas than in rural areas, with 55 per cent of the world’s population residing in urban areas in 2018. In 1950, 30 per cent of the world’s population was urban, and by 2050, that figure is expected to rise to 68 per cent, according to the UN World Urbanization Prospects (2018 revision).


Today, the most urbanised regions include Northern America (with 82 per cent of its population living in urban areas in 2018), Latin America and the Caribbean (81 per cent), Europe (74 per cent) and Oceania (68 per cent). The level of urbanisation in Asia is now approximating 50 per cent. In contrast, Africa remains mostly rural, with 43 per cent of its population living in urban areas, although that figure is expected to rise in accordance with economic and industrial development in the years ahead.


The urban population of the world has grown rapidly since 1950, having increased from 751 million to 4.2 billion in 2018. Asia, despite being less urbanised than most other regions today, is home to 54 per cent of the world’s urban population, followed by Europe and Africa (13 per cent each). 


Tokyo is the world’s largest city with an agglomeration of 37 million inhabitants, followed by Delhi with 29 million, Shanghai with 26 million, and Mexico City and São Paulo (each with around 22 million inhabitants). Today, Cairo, Mumbai, Beijing and Dhaka all have close to 20 million inhabitants.

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