Chris Hines MBE on taking action towards reducing water risk

Last updated: 18th April 2024

In the run up to Water Matters 2024, Waterscan interviewed one of the event's key speakers, Former Sustainability Director of the Eden Project and Founder of Surfers Against Sewage - Chris Hines MBE. Here's an extract from the interview:

You mention campaigning – something you’ve been extremely successful at in your career. In your experience which stakeholders have been the hardest to convince?

Government usually gets the issue at some level, but we have to remember that everybody is pushing the Treasury in different directions. I don’t think the water sector is getting adequate representation at this high level. This is a challenge, not helped when water companies discharge sewage into our seas which causes distrust and it makes it very hard for them to get support and investment.

Water companies must understand their social contract with the public as well as the financial contract. Then businesses will come with them.

There are always going to be what I call ‘slow companies’ – those that just can’t see the need to change, and resist it, and you have to drag them, screaming and kicking over the threshold! – but there are others that don’t rely on being told what to do. There was a telling example recently regarding electric cars. When the government announced it was slowing down its EV rollout, one car firm boss said, ‘OK fine, but we’re not going to do that. We’ve just invested in a multi-billion pound factory so you can slow down but we’re not going to – it’s not our long term vision’. That’s different. That’s mature business thinking.

Water Matters is an important day for having those mature conversations. Conversations about what the real issues are, where, irrespective of politics, are we going, and how will we get there in an ever-increasing pace of change.

You can read the full interview here.

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