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We need to develop the new light bulb

Debatindlæg i forbindelse med erhvervsfremstød i Washington uge 39 2016.

Publiceret 3. oktober 2016

Every day, Danes are relying on products that were made by American inventors: Edison’s light bulb, the hearing aid, the microwave oven or the GPS. All results of the exceptional creativity and entrepreneurship that is found so plentiful in the U.S.

So what can a small country like Denmark possibly have to offer? Together with the Danish royal family and a business delegation I later this week visit the Water Caucus meeting hosted in Capitol Hill to present the Danish solutions on water.

As a small country with limited natural resources, we are very much aware of the ones, we have got. Water is one of them. At first glance water may seem unlimited – falling from the sky, running in our rivers and covering more than 70 % of the Earth. But for too many people around the world the limits of our water resources are becoming alarmingly clear these years.

Also in the States the challenges are visible to the naked eye. When the draught hits California, when the Colorado River is beginning to run dry, and when cities like Flint are struggling to secure healthy drinking water for a growing population.

In March this year, the White House convened national actors to attend the White House Water Summit. Denmark was so fortunate to get an invitation to share our experiences.

For the past 20 years the consumption and contamination of our water has had a special focus in Denmark. Obligatory water meters and several campaigns have made water savings a natural part of everyday life. Today, Danes on average consume 28 gallons of water per day, whereas average consumption is 80-100 gallons per person in the U.S.

A key explanation is the fact that the Danish water price reflects the real cost associated with water delivery and wastewater treatment. We are aware of our consumption and we pay the true cost of water. This has provided a strong incentive for reducing consumption. And for developing more efficient solutions like the water saving dishwasher and shower head. But they are old news. Now dairies, breweries, slaughterhouses and car washes are competing on the lowest water usage. And the latest news are energy saving and even energy producing wastewater treatment plants – they simply turn the sludge into a source of heat and energy, while pursuing all possible energy savings across the board in utility operations. This holds a great potential for the U.S. Water sector.

We value our American partners dearly – no ally and trading partner today is more important to us than the U.S. In the same time the world urgently needs the American innovation powerhouse: Global demand for water is rising rapidly and the availability of water is declining. We need to develop the new light bulb to solve the water crisis – in California, in the Mid-West and on the entire planet Earth.