Inside Asia Podcast

Peter Kennedy: The Commodification of Water

March 7, 2018

When you hear the term “private equity,” it conjures images of corporate raiders and Wall Street moguls. You think of Gordon Gekko from the film Wall Street, hair slicked back, reminding you that greed is good and that money never sleeps.

Maybe there’s some truth to that image. But not the whole truth. It’s one side of the story.

My guest this episode gives us the other.

Peter Kennedy is an impact investor—he’s head of CLSA’s Clean Resources Private Equity Fund. Peter’s Clean Resources Fund targets growth stage investments in renewable energy, purification technologies, and sustainable agriculture. Though his fund is focused on doing good work, this is not a charity. Peter is in the business of making money, as long as it makes the world a better place.

Peter invites us to see how the private sector, armed with advanced technology, can ensure a better future. Water management is a strategic imperative. From purification, to treatment, to distribution and monitoring, it is time for us to raise water to its rightful place and apply ingenuity and engineering solutions in support of this resource.

It’s about survival in every sense. This isn’t about what’s right. Investors and technologists are now prepared to combine forces and address water shortages. The degree to which governments see this as an equally compelling challenge is the real question. Politics reward the short-sighted and water conservation (like energy) is a long-term proposition. Do nothing and cities and farm lands will suffer. The world will be a changed place.

Don’t believe me? Have you read about Cape Town in South Africa? This spectacularly beautiful city with a population of nearly 4 million people is on the verge of running dry. Authorities point ominously to “Day Zero” – a time in early May - when the city will have no choice but to shut off water supplies and establish water collection points to preserve what water they have left.  Dozens of other metropolitan cities around the world face a similar fate.

Peter Kennedy invites us to see how the private sector, armed with advanced technology, can address the problem and ensure a better future.