Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Thames Water plc


  I was interested to learn that the Environmental Audit Committee are conducting an inquiry into the UK's preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in September 2002. Thames Water is working closely with both Government departments and non-governmental organisations to deliver sustainable solutions for water and sanitation provision. We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the inquiry and set out below is an overview of our involvement in the WSSD preparations which the Committee may wish to consider as part of their deliberations.

UK Partnering for Water Supply & Sanitatoin

  A joint initiative between multi-sector partners in the UK and Africa.

Project objective

  To develop an innovative approach to the provision of sustainable water and sanitation to communities without access.


  The project was established following a challenge laid down by the Prime Minister to British industry, specifically the water sector, to consider practical proposals for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The project focuses on the concepts of sustainability, multi-sector partnership and enhanced quality of life of the urban poor, with South Africa as the initial target country. The Governmental sector is lead by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department for International Development (DfID). Thames Water has, and will continue, to take a leading role in delivering this project on behalf of the UK water industry.

Thames Water's Commitment

    —  Thames Water was one of the first companies to respond to the challenge laid down by the Prime Minister and has been a member of the cross-departmental steering group managing the project since its inception.

    —  The company has agreed to resource a project over a three year period and has appointed a South African national "in-country" manager, with local knowledge and development experience, to assist in the delivery of a project that identifies and meets local needs. This is a significant commitment, not only in terms of resources to the project but also in terms of supporting our principles of devising and delivering local solutions to address local problems.

    —  Thames Water's Chief Executive Bill Alexander met the Prime Minister in November 2001 on behalf of the UK water industry to reaffirm both Thames Water's and the sector's commitment to this project.

    —  Two senior representatives of Thames Water attended the Bonn International Freshwater Conference in December 2001 in support of the UK Government's launch of the project.

    —  Thames Water continues to act as a source of information and best practice and has agreed to work with the UK Government in order to select an appropriate project that best meets the needs of the local government and its people but also maximises the resources that Thames Water has available.

Thames Water and Sustainability

    —  Thames Water has participated in previous multi-sector partnerships at a global level as part of the Business Partners for Development Programme, backed by the World Bank and DfID. The specific project was in Jakarta, Indonesia.

    —  Thames Water has been invited to work in partnership with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) to work as part of a cross sector partnership in delivering a sustainable water project in India or China.

    —  Thames Water's Chief Operating Officer chairs a monthly sustainability Group that meets to co-ordinate activity in this area. This group is also driving the delivery of an updated sustainability strategy through the organisation to reflect geopolitical priorities.

    —  In the last year Thames Water, its employees and customers have raised over £2.3 million for the company's principal sustainable development charity, WaterAid. A highlight of the past year was the success of an award-winning website,, which has received over three million visitors from around the world and has raised money to help over 20,000 people where WaterAid is active. It has also served to highlight to millions of people the plight of those who do not have access to safe water or adequate sanitation and the work that Thames Water and WaterAid are doing to alleviate the problems they face.

    —  Thames Water will be taking part in the United Nations Environment & Development (UNED) UK Committee Youth Conference by sponsoring two students from the UK and two students from South Africa to attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development and a preparatory meeting in the UK. The students will attend on behalf of nominated NGOs, in this case WaterAid.

  We would be happy to provide further information, either in writing or through a personal appearance before the Committee.

February 2002

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