Hydro Nation: annual report 2021

Records the development of Scotland's Hydro Nation policy agenda and reports on progress since the publication of the seventh annual report in 2020.

International – reaching out to the world

The Hydro Nation Strategy outlines our intent to deploy the potential of Scotland's knowledge and innovation in a global context. Hydro Nation International (HNI) describes our activity to co-ordinate and harness a range of international water-related activities across Scottish public bodies, universities and non-Governmental organisations that contribute not only to the Hydro Nation agenda but also to the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals; in particular Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030). Activities completed as part of this agenda in 2020-21 include:

Malawi Scotland Regulatory Partnership (MSRP)

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has continued to lead the MSRP with support from the Scottish Government through the Hydro Nation International Centre. The programme offers institutional support and capacity building to Malawi's National Water Resources Authority (NWRA) and Malawi Environment Protection Agency (MEPA). In support of this, the MSRP welcomes multi-sectoral collaboration from across the Hydro Nation family, and beyond, currently bringing additional expertise from the James Hutton Institute (JHI), Hydro Nation Scholars and Water Witness International (WWI) in Scotland, and BASEflow and BAWI consultants in Malawi. This agile configuration of Scottish and Malawian expertise, united under the banner of Hydro Nation, continues to represent a novel and effective vehicle for supporting the operational needs expressed by the NWRA and MEPA.

As in previous years, the regulators remain in the early stages of operationalisation, requiring assistance with corporate governance and development of information systems and other key operational protocols and procedures that underpin regulatory decision-making. Following the emergence of Covid-19 in early 2020, the MSRP refocused efforts on aiding regulators through remote engagement and identifying a need for future enhancement of our digital delivery capacity in Malawi.

While managing to maintain some of the MSRP's core offering, the newfound restrictions also created an opportunity to consolidate and plan for delivery of international-focussed work in a post-covid and Net-Zero world. These activities focussed on:

  • Consolidating the MSRP's assessment and understanding of the challenges impacting the performance of Malawi's water sector,
  • Reinforcing key relationships with stakeholders in Malawi,
  • Building representation of the MSRP through Malawi partners, ensuring the future delivery is Malawi-led.

Scottish Water Horizons (SWH)

The primary purpose of Scottish Water Horizons' international activities is to develop business opportunities abroad in line with the Scottish Government's Hydro Nation ambitions. Key highlights in 2021 include:

  • South Australia Water: SWH has been continuing to provide expert advice and support to South Australia (SA) Water via a joint venture between KBR and Aurecon to transform the delivery of their Capital Investment Programme. The programme has successfully completed its first year with a smooth transition between investment periods and a newly implemented risk-management framework, whilst minimising impact from COVID-19. In the coming year, Scottish Water Horizons will develop an integrated Risk and Benefits Management Framework and facilitate lifecycle efficiency opportunities to increase the productivity and quality of SA Water's Capital Delivery outputs.
  • Queensland Urban Utilities: Scottish Water Horizons has renewed its relationship with Urban Utilities (QLD) via KBR to provide expert advice to its Capital Solutions team. SWH will facilitate a benchmarking assessment between QLD, SA Water and Scottish Water through a collaboration network called "Delivering Connections" to help respective teams connect, share successes, innovations and lessons learnt; as well as providing a platform for sharing of ideas and collaborative problem solving with greater diversity of thinking.
  • Yarra Valley Water: Scottish Water Horizons has extended its services in the Australian Water industry to include Yarra Valley Water (YVW) via a joint venture between KBR and Aurecon to support the development of the utility's Portfolio Management Office (PMO). This has involved numerous knowledge transfer sessions between YVW and Scottish Water with the latter describing the challenges and experiences in establishing its own PMO.
  • New Zealand: In partnership with WICS, Scottish Water is continuing to provide advice into the Three Waters Reform Programme, a new drinking water regulatory framework, with oversight on other services. This involved Scottish Water Horizons providing a knowledge transfer session with Wellington Water on its approach to business process development and quality management systems.

British Geological Survey

The British Geological Survey (BGS) worked with partners across 14 Low to Middle Income countries in 2020-21 to deliver data and research on improving water security under future climate change. The work contributes to the Hydro Nation strategy of using our expertise in Scotland across the world, particularly to help the poorest countries and marginalised people. This global research programme run from offices in Edinburgh helped to deliver world leading research into groundwater and water security, as well as informing climate resilience water strategies in several East African countries. This year, with partners from African Universities, BGS published a map of groundwater for Africa, quantifying for the first time the rate of renewal for groundwater.

Image showing storage and recharge levels for groundwater across Africa



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