The event took place in Cardiff

Water is a precious natural resource. Ensuring there is enough for us to use and nature to survive is one of the most important issues of our time. We often have too much or too little water at the wrong time and in the wrong place!

In March 2023, we hosted “We Need to Talk About Water”, a water and climate change conference in Wales (pdf). The event was joined by 120 participants at our Cardiff office and focused on discussing the action we collectively need to take to address this new reality. This was a collaborative event with the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales (NICW) and the Design Commission for Wales (DCFW). It brought together the different voices in the debate about the future of water in Wales, was chaired by Aleena Khan, a National Infrastructure Wales Commissioner, and took an action-focused approach, considering the perspective of future generations.

Event materials

View all presentations, videos, including the opening speech from Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change in Wales.

View presentations and videos

We are pleased to see the following developments in the months after the conference:

  • National Infrastructure Commission Wales will be issuing its position on water as a result of our collaboration.
  • Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water has responded by issuing its report on Climate Change adaptation.
  • Welsh Government has included actions on water and climate change in its climate public engagement toolkit, has included water efficiency and decarbonisation measures in its social housing quality standards and will be retrofitting 230,000 social housing homes with water butts to increase their water efficiency.
  • A collaborative demonstrator project was announced in November 2023 in the Teifi catchment and we will be part of it to help test public engagement approaches.

Our main conclusions and actions

Water related action could play a role in reversing biodiversity loss as well delivering positive impacts on energy efficiency and carbon emission reduction.

We are pleased our consultation response to Wales’s public engagement strategy on climate change action lead to Welsh Government’s climate change action page now including water related actions in its daily choices section.

We will be working with government in Wales to see if the content on water related action can be enhanced.

Our top priority is to help equip educators in Wales with the right information to help empower future generations to act on water related challenges and climate change impacts.

We’re working to add our resources to Welsh Government’s education Hwb. Though the Wales Water Efficiency group we are also planning to review water education resources available on the Welsh Government’s education Hwb to help identify gaps.

We welcome the work that the Wales Drought liaison group as it helps coordinate consistent messaging and accurate information for the public on water resources availability.

Finally our Droughtcast Podcast and our Drought hub page which has been completed since our conference is helping inform the water resources availability communication work we and stakeholders do in Wales.

We expect developers to incorporate water efficiency and pollution reduction solutions into urban and rural planning, housing as well as enabling solutions such as for example rainwater harvesting and sustainable drainage could help support this.

We are pleased that the new Welsh Social Housing standards issues in October 2023 have incorporated measures on water efficiency and decarbonisation in response to our and  Wales Water efficiency Group calls.

It is fantastic that that Welsh Government is retrofitting 230,000 social housing homes with water butts in response to our previous calls to incorporate water efficiency measures to the subsidised social housing retrofit initiative.

We want to work with government and industry to make social housing even more water efficient and generate evidence for future retrofit solutions for all homes and businesses in Wales.

Moving forward are calling on water companies in Wales to explore how their water smart metering roll out in Wales from 2025 could align with energy smart metering installation at social housing home on change of occupancy – this approach is set out in the new Welsh Social Housing quality standards. It could make sense to coordinate smart metering action for both energy and water.

Since our event we presented a proposal for an industry wide Accelerated Reductions In Demand (ARID) initiative and tried to engage with stakeholders in Wales.  This should be considered alongside work undertaken through Ofwat’s Water efficiency innovation fund and additional work that we are undertaking on water industry behavioural change pilots.

We were also pleased to see the in Wales calling for the new Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS) to create opportunities for freshwater ecosystems restoration. We think the Sustainable Farming Scheme in Wales should also include incentives for water storage on farms to ensure the agricultural sector can respond to future droughts and ensure sustainable food security in Wales, as well as capture water reduce pollution from surface water runoff.

This and other future catchment demonstrator programmes could help test behavioural change initiatives in Wales to nurture action and change at community level in Wales.

We will be working with stakeholders towards public engagement actions through the Teifi demonstrator project in Wales.