The founder, principal owner and Chairman of the Board of Econet, Matti Leppäniemi, has travelled around the world on water business for nearly four decades. He has been involved in building and running water management projects in developing as well as industrialised countries.
Leppäniemi has seen how unevenly fresh water is distributed around the world, and how attitudes towards water vary depending on how much of it happens to be available somewhere. According to him, this situation will not change any time soon. On the contrary, climate change threatens to exacerbate the situation.
According to Leppäniemi, the uneven distribution of water has resulted in water management focused on wastewater treatment in industrialised countries. In turn, developing countries are most interested in potable water.
- It’s important to remember that wherever there’s a severe shortage of water, it can easily become a political pawn, boosting selfish aspirations. We should be able to identify these, for example with regard to development aid projects related to water management. At the same time, we should give more consideration to how to make the most of tight resources, Leppäniemi urges.
- Development aid is used for digging simple shallow wells, although we could offer a very high level of knowledge and expertise regarding the water management of built-up areas. If the goal is to do as much good as possible with the same money, you have to go to the city slums.
Matti Leppäniemi thinks that water management know-how is great in Finland, but he’s slightly concerned that new innovations emerge in this field only rarely.
According to Leppäniemi, Finland should be able to profile itself like Israel, and promote its international reputation as an expert in the water sector. He says that pristine Finnish nature and thousands of lakes are advertised around the world but he wonders if it evokes thoughts of Finland’s level of expertise.
According to Leppäniemi, a well-functioning water management system is the sum of many factors, with volunteering being an important part of it. Almost every lake in Finland has a water protection association that monitors and reports on the condition of the water. Various societies and associations do significant work around the waters.
- This is the kind of comprehensive water management and know-how we should be exporting to the world, instead of low-tech ring wells.
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Further information for the media:
Econet Group is a water and environment technology service company. The Group includes Econet Ltd, Dewaco Ltd and Oy Slamex Ab. Helsinki-based Econet designs and offers solutions for clean water and environment globally. Laitila-based Dewaco, in turn, is specialised in sludge thickening, dewatering and sludge removal. Lahti-based Slamex designs and manufactures equipment for treatment of water and wastewater. The Group’s turnover amounts to about EUR 18 million.