2/2016

Finnish water services and governance summarised

Community water supply and wastewater services will globally face major challenges in the decades to come. As valuable input to related discussions, a newly published book showcases Finnish water service expertise to an international readership.

Tapio Katko

 

The new book ‘Finnish Water Services – Experiences in Global Perspective’ is based on Katko’s previous book on water services written in Finnish.

 

WHO? Tapio S. Katko

  • UNESCO Chairholder, Adjunct Professor
  • Katko heads the CADWES Research Group (Capacity Development of Water and Environmental Services) that focuses on the organisation, institutions, operating policy and management of water services. The group has published dozens of books, several peer-reviewed articles and produced approximately a dozen doctoral dissertations.
  • The only Nordic UNESCO Chair in the field of water services, ‘Sustainable Water Services’, has been granted to Tampere University of Technology. TUT has solid and proven experience in international cooperation with African universities, in particular. The second four-year term of the Chair began in summer 2016.
 

Nearly a billion people around the world lack safe water, 2.5 billion people live without basic sanitation and 80 per cent of wastewater around the world remains beyond any treatment. There is thus plenty of room for continued work and expertise. In fact, expertise in the field of water supply and sewerage could prove to be one of Finland’s high-potential areas for exports and education in future.

“Despite their own challenges, water services in Finland are of high standard globally speaking. We hold a lot of expertise that could also be applied elsewhere in the world,” says UNESCO Chairholder Tapio S. Katko from the Department of Civil Engineering of Tampere University of Technology.

The book ‘Finnish Water Services – Experiences in Global Perspective’ written by Katko has just been published. It gathers extensive knowledge on the development of water services in Finland, along with their social significance. The book is well suited for decision-makers, professionals, students and anyone interested in the field of water services.

In the work, Katko highlights some of the key strengths of Finnish water services, such as institutional diversity, and discusses the long-term strategic decisions, principles and practices of water services in Finland. The fact that water utilities and sewerage plants mainly operate within a single organisation, for example, is a Finnish practice. In many other countries, this is not the case.

“Even though water services always require solutions that fit the local conditions, some of the more general practices are widely applicable,” Katko says.

“We must expand our horizons beyond merely developing new technologies. We must also appreciate water supply issues from the institutional and governance perspectives,” he stresses.

Finland has accumulated solid expertise in neighbourhood collaboration and development co-operation in the sphere of water supply management. Some of the focuses of the book include the Baltic Sea and marine protection as well as collaboration in developing countries. The book also contains reflections from seven international experts from various corners of the world.

“Finnish expertise has yielded great results in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Vietnam, for example.”

As for the greatest challenge for water services in Finland and globally, Katko mentions the aging and deteriorating infrastructure. Water services constitute a basic component in community infrastructure, and its functionality must be guaranteed for everyone.

“It is fully feasible to generate potable water, purify waste water and increase our investments in repairs and renovation worldwide. More than anything else, this requires a political and professional will. We have a lot of useful expertise and knowhow here in Finland that we should more actively bring to the table on a global scale,” Katko notes.

The book has been published by Finnish Water Utilities Association (FIWA).

Text: Sanna Schildt
Photo:Virpi Andersin

 
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