Water, energy and climate change, the main topics of debate at WEX Global 2024

Innovation, sustainability and collaboration were some of the watchwords at this year’s WEX Global 2024, a platform for the exchange of knowledge and best practices among the main players in the water and energy sectors. Madrid was the city chosen to host the event, entitled “Water, Energy and Climate Change: Integrated Solutions to Build a Water Positive Future,” which brought together over 250 participants with the shared objective of addressing the most pressing challenges related to water and energy against a backdrop marked by climate stress.

In the words of Mark Barker, CEO of WEX Global, “WEX has consolidated its position as one of the most important forums for debate in the water and energy sectors, both in terms of number of participants and the quality of its round tables, which have centered on addressing key issues to improve resilience and sustainability in a scenario characterized by climate change.”

Over three days of intense discussions, conferences and networking sessions, attendees had the opportunity to connect with the latest trends, technologies and strategies that are shaping the future of the water and energy sectors. WEX Global 2024 highlighted the importance of innovation, from efficient resource management to the deployment of smart monitoring and control solutions, as a way to move towards a more sustainable, resilient future.

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Digital transformation as the key to the future

Pablo Calabuig, VP Americas at Idrica, underlined the impact of artificial intelligence as one of the major technologies to consider. During his WEX Global keynote speech, he pointed out that “it is the best time in history to focus on innovation, collaboration and global action to build a more resilient, sustainable and equitable future for the water sector.”

Jean de Montal, Xylem’s Solution Selling Europe S&W Director, echoed these comments at the Idrica-sponsored panel entitled: “Integrated Solutions to Build a Water Positive Future.” In his remarks, the Xylem executive emphasized the importance of cooperation as the foundation for digitalization.  He also underscored the need for a holistic, long-term vision to embrace digital transformation, focused on breaking down information silos within utilities. This is why we need to generate a digital culture in companies,” he pointed out.  

Artificial intelligence was one of the buzzwords on everyone’s lips at WEX Global. Pilar Conejos, Idrica’s Digital Twin Manager, noted that this technology “is set to transform the water and energy sector.” The Idrica specialist underlined the need to “consider all the techniques available so far and apply the one that best suits each challenge, bearing in mind that many of the available techniques can be combined or work together to enhance their benefits“.

Some of these strategies were discussed in the panel sponsored by Xylem Vue powered by GoAigua, entitled “Creating sustainable digital strategies to drive growth in the Water Sector.” In the opinion of Chema Nebot, VP EMEA – APAC – Brazil at Idrica, “utilities are keen to adopt technology, although public-private partnerships will be needed to push this through.” In this regard, Manuel Meléndez Prieto, Advisor to the Secretary of State for the Environment’s Office (MITECO), explained the role of digital transformation in the PERTE water cycle initiative, a program with a budget of almost €3 billion aimed at improving water management in Spain.

The event was rounded off with the WEX Global gala dinner and awards ceremony, where Servicios de Agua y Drenaje de Monterrey I.P.D. took home the Innovation Water Circularity Award for its efforts in tackling one of the worst droughts in recent years in Mexico in 2022, with digital technology playing a key role in this process.

Over almost 20 years, WEX Global has established itself as a key international meeting point for specialists involved in water and energy management with a focus on sustainability.

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