James Rees - bluerloop Advisory Board

  • 11.04.2022
  • bluerloop
  • bluerloop

What are your qualifications and experience?

I have a consulting and banking background and develop strategic, operational, and capital solutions for mid-market companies addressing sustainability issues and climate change. I have worked in Australia, Asia, and the US. I started my career at PwC and worked at Greenhill Investment Bank and Credit Suisse. After leaving Credit Suisse, I established a consulting firm and worked with a range of successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, and Boards. I was also the CFO/COO of an innovative water technology company that targeted mineral recovery and wastewater treatment projects. I have worked with water technology companies, regulators, service providers, operators, and investors for the past ten years. I provide consulting services for noverram (a consulting company providing strategy and capital advice for sustainability focused companies) and on the Advisory Board for Droople and Bluerloop.

I am also the Chief Impact Officer of Botanical Water Technologies (BWT). BWT has patented technology to harvest and purify evaporative condensate, usually discarded at fruit and vegetable processing plants, to create potable water. Water can be used as a sustainable ingredient for FMCG products or gifted to communities (WASH), basin restoration, or environmental programs.

How did your association with water start and develop?

Australia is a water-scarce country and where I was raised was subject to regular water restrictions. Schools used to teach basic water conservation (turn off the tap when not using it), and during restrictive seasons we used to have to shower with buckets to catch water for the garden. Now the city I was raised in, it is required to install a rainwater tank for new building developments. I have traveled to over 30 countries, and I have seen firsthand the impact limited water or polluted water has on underdeveloped or impoverished communities. Lack of access to safe drinking water and poor sanitation increases the risk of the transmission of diseases, reduces overall community health, and prevents families from education or income (as they need to collect water).

What is an example of an impactful project you have seen?

I sponsor a child via the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF). Scott Neeson founded the CCF over 15 years ago. After traveling to Cambodia and seeing children rummaging through a toxic landfill for scraps in Phnom Penh, Scott decided to set up a charity to provide shelter, education, food, and support for local Cambodian children and families. The CCF has assisted over 3,500 children and families out of poverty. I have visited the CCF, and its integrated model of providing basic needs, support for families, education, and teaching students to be leaders in the community is self-sustaining and highly impactful. It breaks the poverty cycle that is so hard to escape for most families.

What is your vision for the 2030 world?

There are less than eight years before 2030. Many organizations are focused on carbon reduction targets for 2025 and 2030 to achieve a net-zero output by 2050 or earlier. Carbon reduction is necessary to reduce global warming; however, ambitious climate targets to restrict warming to 1.5C will be hampered without addressing water-related issues. Water is a finite resource, and expected global growth could increase consumption by over 30%. Water is a worldwide issue but requires regional basins-related solutions. Governments, corporations, capital providers, and communities need to collaborate to address water-related challenges (overuse, pricing, treatment, allocation, infrastructure). By 2030, but I hope much earlier, water has the same attention provided to carbon and global warming today.

What is the most unusual activity you have performed?

I represented Australia in 1999 and 2001 at the World Championships for Dragon boat racing. Dragon boats are large canoes that sit 20 people in ten rows of two. The boats can weigh over a ton, so it is all about teamwork and synchronized power paddling to get the boat onto its optimal plane and then speed to the finish line.

What is the most exciting Country you have visited?

I have visited Thailand over ten times and had the opportunity to stay at the nice hotels but also with local communities. It is a diverse country, with complex but friendly people, strong traditions and patriotism, deep history, religious undertones, and fantastic food. The most interesting, maybe relaxing place I have visited recently is Holbox Mexico. Holbox is a small island in the north of the Yucatan. No cars are allowed to protect the environment and the unpaved streets. Water and power is limited on the island. It is an ecosystem in the balance between sustainability and tourism dollars.