5 Trends For 2017: The Year Of The Rooster

By Debra Tan 15 February, 2017

The Rooster crows a new pecking order. Best to be prepared for this new dawn with our 5 trends

Tidy rooster sees more enforcement, innovation & reform as China charts a water-nomics course for future
Mother hen nature = protect river basins; support new & revamp old industries; and push for water risk valuation
China will lead climate fight so likely to rethink its critical raw materials supply; global trade rebalancing imminent

We warned that the year of the Monkey would bring wild swings; it did not disappoint. The US, built on immigration, is now erecting walls and issuing select immigration bans; Britain which built its wealth on the back of the British Empire is heading to a hard Brexit; meanwhile the President of the Communist Party of China, defends global trade in Davos. The disruptive Monkey appears to have brought with it a topsy-turvy world.

As we kick off the year of the Rooster, I am reminded of a Chinese saying 金鸡报晓 (jīnjībàoxiǎo) – literally “the golden rooster crows, announcing dawn”. So are we at the dawn of a new era? Indeed, world events appear to point to a new pecking order.

The US threatens to pull out of the Paris Agreement…
… yet we in Asia remain the most vulnerable

According to astrologists, the Rooster has a penchant for perfection and tidiness, adopting a no-loose-ends attitude. This should be a breath of fresh air compared to the happy go-lucky Monkey; but the Rooster embarks on the journey from a very different starting point. From an environmental perspective, both the US and Britain have decided to take a back seat in the global fight for climate change. The US has even appointed a climate denier to head the EPA and threatens to pull out of the Paris Agreement. You don’t need a soothsayer to predict their future actions on this front. The signs could not be clearer. Yet, water still remains the most vulnerable resource in a changing climate and we in Asia remain most vulnerable.

Water-related risks from water crisis to extreme weather, including the failure of climate adaptation and mitigation are still among the Top 5 global risks for 2017. In the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Risk Report, income disparity is also a top risk and the failure to address this has brought about the increased uncertainty we are facing today. Not addressing water risks, on the other hand, would be catastrophic.

…Climate change can disrupt the flow of 10 major rivers, which flow through 16 Asian countries

Ten major rivers that flow from the Himalayan Hindu Kush region provide us with water in Asia, sustaining our food and our economies. These are the mighty Ganges, Brahmaputra, Indus, Amu Darya, Mekong, Salween, Irrawaddy, Tarim, Yellow and Yangtze rivers. They are also the source of countless myths, gods, fables and folklore that form the fabric of Asia. Climate change can disrupt their flow.

Glaciers, which can contribute significantly to river flow, 10-12% for the Upper Yangtze to 40% of the Upper Indus, are retreating. Moreover, mountain springs are also disappearing while snowfall and rain have become increasingly unpredictable. Millions of people and the economies of 16 countries in Asia depend on these ten rivers, yet there is little awareness or capital directed towards addressing urgent challenges. Adaptation finance today is at USD56-73 billion but needs to reach USD140-300 billion by 2030 to meet annual needs. Can Asia take the lead in mitigation & adaptation?

Asia can no longer afford business-as-usual… we must have the “courage to take action” for the common good

Today, Asia is a key driver of global economic growth. As President Xi pointed out in his inaugural Davos address, we live in a world that of imbalances: Emerging markets and developing countries now contribute to 80% the of global economy, but global governance has yet to reflect this. Rapid development has also come at a cost to the environment. This, along with limited water resources coupled with climate change, means that Asia can no longer afford a “business as usual approach” towards development. If this continues, we only serve to shoot ourselves in the foot in the long term.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that we do not act rationally when it comes to short-term rewards vs long-term goals. What’s worse is that in this interconnected and interlinked world, the actions of others also have impact. So now what? Again, Xi’s speech offers clues. Not only did he devote much time to addressing irrational behavior in the face of radical uncertainty but he also emphasized the “courage to take action” for the common good.

“…this is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.”

Encouragingly, the environment and sustainability feature prominently. Threats imposed by climate change also are clearly recognized. Strong signals to uphold the Paris Agreement were also present as Xi chides that “all signatories should stick to it instead of walking away from it as this is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.”

This is the “new China normal”… this chicken needs to get to the other side; but there are tight constraints & the path is yet to be defined

Who would have thought that it would be down to China to staunchly defend globalization and climate change? Yet, here we are. This is the “new China normal”. A path based on “China’s realities”; as Xi would put it – a development path that suits itself; a path “guided by the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development”. This is not just rhetoric – given China’s current waterscape, this path is inevitable. China needs to develop. There are still around 55 million people living in poverty. This chicken needs to get to the other side of the road, but environment and resource constraints are now tighter, plus “the other side” and how to get there are yet to be defined, lending to additional uncertainty.

This Year of the Rooster is more like one of a schizophrenic fowl – much will be precariously balanced

What’s certain is that the path promises “reform and innovation”. Since reform and innovation are strange bedfellows, this Year of the Rooster is more like one of a schizophrenic fowl – on one hand, a mother hen protecting and pushing its young, often nagging and irritating and on the other hand, a proud cock flaunting its authority, at times keeping peace in the barnyard and at others causing friction with its domineering attitude. So be warned, much will be precariously balanced in the Year of the Rooster.

In a new pecking order, it is always good to figure out where you stand. So stay ahead of the curve with our 5 trends for the Year of the Rooster:

1. Policies, regulations & enforcement to ensure we don’t kill the hen to get the eggs

China to avoid 杀鸡取卵 – no to short term gain; yes to long term profit

For this year, it is good to bear in mind 杀鸡取卵 (shājīqǔluǎn) – killing the hen to get at the eggs, a prescient Chinese adage that warns against seeking short-term gain at the sacrifice of long-term profit. We have been saying that China’s growth will no longer be at the expense of the environment; and President Xi Jinping reiterates this clearly in Davos:

“It is important to protect the environment while pursuing economic and social progress so as to achieve harmony between man and nature and between man and society”. 

President Xi Jinping, World Economic Forum, Davos, January 2017   

5 Regulatory Trends - From Enforcement to Finance (2)
China’s environmental regulatory and policy landscape has continued to undergo a series of important changes in 2016. These changes should allow the country to effectively steer away from 杀鸡取卵 (killing the hen to get at the eggs), towards balancing the economy and environment.

If you have not been following closely, catch up on the implications and progress of these policies in our latest review of “5 Regulatory Trends: From Enforcement to Finance“.

The tidy Rooster means more order in the barnyard…

For 2017, the tidy Rooster means more order in the barnyard, so expect even more enforcement and strategic planning from the government. With the amendments in the law to take account of the Water Ten approved by the State Council in December 2016 and now just pending official sign-off in the next Party Congress, we expect to see efforts to step up the war on pollution.

Already, between 2014 and 2015, there has been a 17% increase in administrative penalty cases, a 34% increase in administrative penalties and a 42% increase in environmental crime prosecutions – more here.

Naturally, things could move faster. Last month, China’s top auditor says RMB17.6 billion of environmental funds for water pollution and resource management were “not effectively used”. With the meticulous rooster, expect more audits and tightening to come. Already, these inspections, previously dispatched to 15 provinces are to be expanded to all provinces this year.

… also starting to see “unsilo-ed thinking” in 13FYPs – e.g. renewables & water

It is not just enforcement and regulations, we also are starting to see “unsilo-ed thinking” in the 13FYPs. For example, the 13FYP on Renewable Energy now mentions that renewables can also save 3.8 billion m3 of water, equivalent to the annual water use of Beijing. We would like to think we played a small part in this with our 2016 policy brief with IRENA, which was used in preparatory meetings in Beijing for the 7th Clean Energy Ministerial.

The brief uses Chinese government policies as well as IRENA energy development scenarios to estimate how strategies in power mix and cooling technology types can help manage water stress and climate change.  Our results show that dual savings in water and carbon can be achieved. By 2030, water use intensity of power generation can be decreased by as much as 42% while carbon emissions intensity could fall by 37%. Access the results here.

These are long-term plans, so dig in for the long haul. There is no point saying “but China was bad at enforcement in the past”. The past does not point to the future. There were no adequate plans in place for these before and more to the point, the environment was not a priority. Adherence and enforcement of hardline regulations to protect the environment, as well as policies that reinforce a balanced and sustainable development model, are inevitable.

Many will walk on eggshells…

In this transition period to a Beautiful China of blue skies, clear water and clean soil, many industries will walk on eggshells… best make sure you are not one of them.

2.  Don’t count your chickens before they hatch – realignment calls for a rethink of strategies  

A fair amount of time was spent in Davos on the fact that globally, we are not making rational decisions. It was not just President Xi, but Jack Ma who also gave a passionate defence of China in slamming the US for making bad investment decisions, squandering its wealth on wars and the stock market – “it was your [US] strategy … not other countries stealing jobs”. In short, it is not globalisation but mismanagement of resources that has brought about the current state in the US. This mismanagement of resources with regards to the environment is exactly what China is trying to correct at home.

Know your water-nomics! China is trying to wed water resource planning to economic planning

An alignment of economics and environment requires the nation to wed water resource planning to economic planning. We have called this: China Water-nomics.  China has started with the Yangtze River. This is a priority river for President Xi Jinping. The Yangtze River Economic Belt (YREB) provides 42% of China’s GDP and supplies almost three-quarters of China’s rice production. Moreover, heavy metal pollution from heavy industries upstream pollutes arable land downstream and, worse still, if not treated, flows out to the sea/oceans.

Holistic management of river basins/belts =reform across all levels…
… multiple stakeholders to be affected

Central government will continue to strive for holistic management of key river basins/ belts – this means reform across all levels – even structural. Multiple stakeholders with disparate needs in river basins could be affected. In 2016, we co-authored a brief with the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (MEPFECO) on the water-nomics of the Yangtze and strategies forward – we highly recommend you read this to see the lay of the land and future direction.  Not only was this circulated within the MEP, our co-authors were so pleased with it, they submitted the work as an article to one of China’s most influential journals.

Characteristics of the Rooster lend itself to finding practical solutions and with multiple stakeholders, only collective action delivers effective mitigation.
Developing A Global Water Stewardship Standard
A water stewardship programme is a good start and we expect to see more practical efforts as well as multi-collaborations across the board in both the private and public sectors.

In this regard, to kick-off 2017, we have partnered with Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) to jointly promote good water stewardship in China via the AWS Standard as a framework for addressing shared water challenges in selected river basins. Needless to say, the more the merrier – holistic solutions require multiple specialists so please contact us if you want to work with us!

Actions to shuffle assets to optimise resources mean that we cannot count our chickens before they hatch

Upcoming and ongoing actions to shuffle assets to optimise resources mean that we cannot count our chickens before they hatch. There are tough trade-offs ahead and sometimes they are not obvious – see HSBC’s views on cotton vs coal. There could be difficult times ahead for the fashion industrially globally, especially since the textile sector is one of the hardest hit sectors in the Water Ten. Is there really room for dirty thirsty fast fashion in a Beautiful China?  

 “China’s economy has entered what we call a new normal, in which major changes are taking place in terms of growth rate, development model, economic structure and drivers of growth.”

 President Xi Jinping, World Economic Forum, Davos, January 2017


Xi’s speech clearly supports “strategic emerging industries” & the revamp of old industries towards circular economies

For China, there is no turning back. Xi’s speech clearly indicates the support of “strategic emerging industries” and the revamp of old industries towards circular economies are de rigour. He notes that the “traditional engines to drive growth have weakened”, pushing the global economy towards new growth drivers. However, Xi concedes that “new sources of growth are yet to merge” and that “a new path for the global economy remains elusive”. Yet striving towards these new drivers is the rational and “right thing to do”… so although hard, China will have to courageously plough on toward its envisaged future of Made in China.
Oil to fall as Electric Vehicles Rise
Elusiveness means that the business unusual future brings huge opportunities but also can be extremely disruptive. An aggressive push for electric vehicles (EV) in the 13FYP could be good for the climate and hence water as well as air pollution but it could make a dent in the oil industry.

WWF’s latest report estimates 1 million barrels per day of crude oil could be displaced by the late 2020s. Check out the author’s views in “Oil To Fall As Electric Vehicles Take Off“.
Fall of Cement - A Painful Transition
Similarly, industries in the “old list” face a shake-up. The cement industry is one such. In Yi’an Hebei, more than 30 cement plants have been shut down since 2013; the town’s last cement plant closed in late 2016. In their place is high end manufacturing, logistics and eco-tourism.

The transition is happening – Chinadialogue’s Zhang Chun expands on this change in Fall Of The Cement Industry: A Painful Transition“.

In changing times, transitions are painful but necessary

Given Xi’s insistence that “China refuses to stay insensitive to changing times or blindly follow in in others’ footsteps”, historical trends again may not point to future action. Transitions are painful but necessary. Prudence dictates that it’s best for corporates and providers of capital to rethink the way forward in this new norm.

The Rooster favours order & strategic planning so prepare to grab opportunities as they fly by

Here, perhaps it is best to embrace the unknown and stay nimble – position to prepare for the worst so as to grab opportunities as they fly by. The Rooster favours order, scrutiny and strategic planning. So start by reading up on your water-nomics. You can’t plot your moves strategically if you are not familiar with the board of this new game.

3.  Don’t play chicken with trade – it’s a chicken & egg situation 

One of the key strategies of water-nomics is that if you do not have enough water domestically; use other people’s water and import water-intensive goods. Europe, Japan and South Korea have particularly followed this path.

G20 import_export

China & India will likely rethink their current trade strategies

The bottom line is that trade plays an important and integral role in the management of resources. In striving for development with limited water, China and India which largely rely on their own water currently, will likely rethink their trade strategies.

Unfortunately, with everything precariously balanced in 2017, the Rooster’s dramatic personality and rhetoric can set off all kinds of petty disputes and bring us to the brink of a trade war. But before we embark on this direction, it is best to fully assess the situation…

China produces a large chunk of global critical raw materials that need water & cause rampant pollution

The reality is that China still produces a large chunk of soft and hard raw materials for the world. The growing, mining and manufacture of these require significant amounts of water and cause rampant pollution. Much of these raw materials are also critical to certain industries. These include cotton and synthetic fibres for fashion; and critical metals and rare earths for electronics, defence, energy savings, renewable energy and hybrid vehicles.

In 2016, we published a rare earth report questioning whether global clean and smart tech growth can be sustained on the back of toxic rare earths in China and a global black market. Due to the significant amount of rare earths produced in China and new regulations to clean up, responsible investors are naturally worried. Buying electronics pollutes China’s future. In 2016, the UNPRI tabled Rare Earths in China as an emerging ESG issue alongside cybersecurity and antibiotics. Indeed, rare earths could prove to be a bottleneck to the global digital revolution and green transition.

WTO ruled against China’s “me-first” arguments… but trade war could open door to renegotiate

Besides pollution, China’s own demand for rare earths and other critical metals is rising, fuelled by its own green transition and promotion of strategic emerging industries. China’s previous attempts to use a “me-first” argument (in terms of domestic demand & environmental protection) to wiggle out of WTO commitments regarding rare earths, failed as the WTO ruled against China. However, an all-out trade war could open up the door for China to renegotiate across all critical raw materials.
Critical Raw Materials - Dug up in China
This could be disastrous for multiple industries as we forget how much of this is “dug-up in China”. If you are not sure, check out Dug-up in China: The World’s Critical Raw Materials”.

It is interesting to note here, that there are WTO dispute cases between China and the US and the EU for almost all critical raw materials – check out the summary table in our review.

We may be able to redesign/ recycle our way out of this. Indeed, there is a series of 13FYPs released last year pointing towards a green path for the metals and mining industry. As a result, prices may also be adjusted up but at the same time, this opens up opportunities in services focused on soil and mine remediation.

Unwanted “old economy” industries in China may even move back to the US

Are there alternatives? Will India and Indonesia replace China? The amount of infrastructure and investment required would be staggering. Also, will these other countries stomach the pollution? Can they afford it? Australia, in refusing to suffer the radioactive waste from processing its rare earths, has its processing plant in Malaysia where regulations are more lax.

What about doing away with rare earths? Tesla removed them from its battery. This may be possible for some functions but not for others, or they come with trade-offs. Who knows, with the reshoring rhetoric and deregulation of the EPA, pollution and unwanted “old economy” industries in China may even move back to the US.

When water risks loom, Asia cannot afford petty politics or trade war rhetoric…
…there are signs for a renegotiation of global trade & governance…
OBOR offers a practical way forward

There is clearly much at stake. Who’s the ultimate beneficiary of a trade war just depends on how you are looking at it. But surely shifting pollution to countries with laxer regulations is a zero-sum game. Profit should not come at the expense of polluted water/soil and people’s health. Surely there’s a “we all win” rather than an “I win you lose” path forward. Regardless, the signs are here for a renegotiation of global trade and governance.

Posturing is the norm in negotiations. But in the Year of the Fire Rooster, too much crowing increases the chance of bickering and bruised egos, which if left untended could escalate. In times when water risks are looming, Asia cannot afford petty politics. The building of shared futures and economics offers a practical way forward – central to this are strategies like One Belt One Road (OBOR).

Many analysts, including Chinese policy elites, see this as China’s strategy to transform the economy and seek new growth in low carbon and clean tech related industries. In short, ecological environment protection and collaboration on combating climate change are important elements of OBOR. For example, in April 2016, MEP and Shenzhen city government set up the OBOR Environmental Tech Exchange & Transfer Centre. With an international high-level dialogue with representatives from 16 OBOR countries held in Shenzhen towards the end of last year, expect more on the greening of OBOR in 2017.

Asia needs to look beyond the “small stuff” – these are 鸡毛蒜皮 (jīmáosuànpí) or chicken feathers and garlic skin. We need to keep our eyes on the prize – regional stability and prosperity. With an increasingly interlinked world with so much at stake, there’s no time to play chicken. After all, the rooster may crow but the hen delivers the goods; in the end, both are needed to fertilise the egg.

4.  Redefining risks to protect nest eggs – green finance, portfolios, investments 

Disruptions, whether through reform or innovation, can cause upsets in investments, be they in infrastructure / equity & debt portfolios. In this regard, it is important to figure out the size of exposure so as to adopt the appropriate mitigation measures.

China, like a mother hen, will protect $$$ by tackling near term credit risk & longer term climate risk…

Here, China, like a mother hen, will act to protect her investments by adopting a two-prong approach: (1) tackling near-term credit risk brought on by material environmental risk; and (2) addressing longer term risks brought on by climate change impacts, including putting in place mechanisms to raise capital for mitigation and adaptation. On both these fronts, China is a leading global advocate.
Banking in the Age of Water Risk
We said in our article last year, “Banking in the Age of Water Risk” that banks with long-term loan portfolios/project finance do not have the luxury of the short-term investment horizons of hedge funds. Their loan books could be exposed to these water-related risks, which are likely material.

China thinks so too. Last year, ICBC, one of China’s big banks, started to stress test the impact of new and stricter environmental policies on some sectors they lend to as these could impact their clients’ operations and increase credit risk. This is the start.

… water risk valuation is coming of age

Last September, we published Toward Water Risk Valuation – Investor Feedback on Various Methodologies Applied to 10 Energy ListCo’s” (TWRV Report). The 70+ investment professionals/asset owners surveyed as part of this report also saw regulatory risk related to water to be tangible, material and immediate. This report enjoyed good feedback from the investment community. Moreover, we were heartened that (1) CLSA covered it in their annual ESG review; and (2) UBS were inspired by our work to run DCF scenarios on the stocks it covered based on some of our recommendations. However, the largest validation came from within China.

Inclusion of CWR in China’s environmental stress group shows China’s commitment to embed water risks into financial valuations

In 2017, the China Green Finance Committee invited CWR to present our work in water risk valuation at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) in a half-day workshop aimed at quantifying environmental risk. We have since been invited to participate in a working group on environmental stress testing in lending portfolios led by ICBC’s Urban Finance Research Institute. This working group, announced on 12 January 2017 by PBOC’s Chief Economist Dr. Ma Jun, signals a strong push by towards a future of balancing the economy and the environment. The fact that this group has included a small imitative like CWR is testament to the willingness and commitment to embed environmental/water risks into financial valuations.
Financing Water Resilience - Climate Bonds For China
We expect China to continue to build on the success of the G20’s new Green Finance Study Group (GFSG), which it established with the aim to integrate environmental risk into mainstream financial decision-making.

In addition to driving this conversation, China will also likely drive global green bond issuance, including climate bonds. China’s climate bond market is young and the only way is up – more on this in “Financing Water Resilience: Climate Bonds for China”. So make sure you are top of China’s green bond rules – check out What China’s New Green Bond Rules Mean”.

Opportunities in water investments will also abound. All new water & wastewater projects in China need to follow the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model. Will this mean big change and how have other water-related projects been funded in China? Find out more here. Of course we also anticipate more action from China’s AIIB, in particular with OBOR.

China to also drive global green bond issuance + expand & pioneer new PPP model

On the less traditional side, expect to see China co-found more financing innovations like the Green Digital Finance Alliance, a PPP fintech platform geared to “harness digital technologies to catalyse financing that addresses global environmental challenges”. Note that even protecting nest eggs must be guided by the vision of innovation, coordination, green, open & shared development.

5. Golden rooster stands on one leg heralding a new pecking order

Within China, there has been a quiet revolution of realignment: from responsibilities, policies, regulations & law to mindset shift…

For those who have not been following China’s environmental challenges, it may appear that China has suddenly decided to go green. But balancing the economy and environment didn’t just happen. It has been going on for the last 6 years, when in 2011 China first drew up ecological red lines. In this sense, there has been a quiet revolution within China as it set about the realignment from responsibilities, policies, regulations and law to mindset shift. If you have been following us since then, you will find this common thread across all the five trends from 2012-2015.
2011 Year in ReviewChina Water Risk 2012 Review & 5 Trends for 2013China Water Risk - 5 Trends for 2014China Water Risk 5 Trends for Year of the Goat (2015)China Water Risks 5 Trends for 2016
The fundamental building blocks are now almost all in place. China is now set to pursue “new growth industries” and reinvigorate old industries into circular economies. This is easier said than done but in Davos, China set the tone for the year: to muster up courage to tackle domestic and global challenges. In this sense, China can be seen as 金鸡独立, (jīnjīdúlì) golden rooster stands on one leg. This is a martial arts move that mimics a rooster standing on one leg practiced in tai-chi, but it is often used in praise of one who bears the responsibility alone. It is also a lesson in self-diligence and reliance on one’s own courage to confront and overcome any hindrances encountered in life.

China like a golden Rooster, stands out & alone; showing “firm resolve to forge ahead”

We see China standing out and alone in many ways – demonstrating “firm resolve to forge ahead” from green finance to environmental stress testing; executing structural changes at home to deliver the Paris Agreement; pursuing “supply-side structural reform” and “shifting the growth model”.

T Park - Waste To Energy In Hong Kong
The circular and innovative T Park in Hong Kong operated by Veolia is one such business in a new growth model.

This state-of-the-art sludge treatment facility, not only reduces sludge volume by up to 90%, but also recovers heat energy for the plant’s daily operation. The facility includes its own seawater desalination plant. Surplus electricity is exported to the public grid and it discharges zero wastewater. Clearly, this tackles and resolves multiple issues. More on this here.

These changes will have deep impact at home and abroad

These changes will have deep impact at home and abroad. In the immediate term, China may face much downward pressure and even what looks like setbacks but these are what Xi describes as “temporary hardships that occur on the way forward”.

Ultimately, China’s pursuit of such structural reform at home will impact the world. In rebalancing its economy and environment, it may well end up rebalancing everyone else’s. Naturally, risks especially those related to water will have to be re-defined accordingly.

 “We cannot expect others to deliver development to China and no one is in a position to do so. When assessing China’s development, one should not only see what benefits the Chinese have gained, but also how much hard effort they have put in, not just what achievements China has made, but also what contribution China has made to the world. Then one will reach a balanced conclusion about China’s development.”

President Xi Jinping, World Economic Forum, Davos, January 2017


Fair or not, there is a new pecking order… it is time to work with each other, not against

China may not want to lead, but it may have no choice. Fair or not, there is a new pecking order. It is time to work with each other, not against. We are apparently two minutes to midnight on the Doomsday Clock. This along with talk of trade wars spell doom and gloom. Now, there is even talk from the US about lifting a rule regarding conflict minerals, requiring companies to disclose whether their products contain “conflict minerals” from a war-torn part of Africa. These are mostly mined at great social and environmental cost. The apparent justification of “some job loss” is surely a “chicken way out”? This is hardly “a balanced, equitable and inclusive development model”.

Despite this, we still remain positive. Contrary to “the sky is falling” à la Chicken Little, the Rooster heralds a new dawn – and dawns favours the East… For Asia, there is no running away from our common waters; those who are upstream always win the war. The fact that China is doubling down on the commitment to globalization and saying no to protectionism is a good thing. This cooperative, shared futures approach is in line with China’s soft-soft approach to transboundary water.

So cherish the new pecking order, grab opportunities, stay practical and plan ahead. There is no short cut. Triumph and success during the year can only be achieved at the price of hard work and patience. Happy lunar new year!

The Rooster heralds a new dawn – and dawns favours the East

Mantra: Don’t be a chicken, the Rooster favours the brave

Channel: Xi’s playbook of “unshrinkable responsibility” / “making hard decisions” / “right thing to do”

Stay: Sunny-side up

Avoid: Headless chicken / proud cocks


Further Reading

  • 5 Regulatory Trends: From Enforcement To Finance – Since 2016, China’s environmental policy landscape has undergone a series of important changes. CWR’s Xu summarises key regulations & 5 trends you need to know, from greater enforcement to green finance
  • Dug-Up In China: The World’s Critical Raw Materials – China is the largest global supplier of many critical raw materials but growing domestic demand could mean it becomes a net importer. How will other countries secure these materials that are key to a low carbon future? China Water Risk’s Hongqiao Liu explores China’s direction in the 13FYP
  • Fall of The Cement Industry: A Painful Transition – To combat air pollution in China, polluting industries are being shutdown but what are the impacts to local economies? Zhang Chun from chinadialogue looks at the cement industry in Yi’an, Hebei, where only one plant remains from over 100 previously
  • Oil To Fall As Electric Vehicles Take Off – The growth of electric vehicles in China could displace 1mn barrels/day of crude oil by late 2020s. How will this impact companies with fossil fuel assets? How can Asian investors minimise their exposure? WWF’s Jean-Marc Champagne on their latest report
  • T Park: Waste-to-Energy In Hong Kong -Hong Kong’s increasing waste load by 2030 will put tremendous pressure on its management capability.  Veolia’s Nina Cambadelis introduces T PARK, a state-of-the-art sludge treatment facility that turns waste into energy while achieving ‘zero wastewater discharge’

Past Trends

  • 5 Trends for 2016: The Year of the Monkey – Prioritizing environment alongside employment signals a reshuffle. To show it’s serious, China will “kill a chicken to warn the monkey”. The Year of the Monkey brings with it wild swings, so check out our top 5 trends in water for 2016 for it is better to be in a position to disrupt than be disrupted
  • 5 Trends for 2015: The Year of the Goat – As China moves to re-balance its economy and environment, Beijing will shepherd the nation towards water, food & security. For the Year of the Goat, it is better to be the surefooted goat than the sacrificial lamb so check out our top 5 trends in water for 2015
  • 5 Trends for 2014: The Year of the Horse – With environmental risk cited as one of the top risks most likely to derail economic growth along with the banking crisis and housing bubble, check out our top 5 trends in water for the year of the Green Horse
  • 5 Trends for 2013: The Year of the Snake – Not sure what happened in 2012? Read our review and find out what our top 5 water trends are for the Year of the Snake. Will we be bogged down or will we slide ahead?
  • 5 Trends for 2012: The Year of the Dragon – Find out what’s happened in the water space in the Year of the Rabbit and check out the five trends we see continuing into 2012, the Year of the Water Dragon
Debra Tan
Author: Debra Tan
Debra heads the CWR team and has steered the CWR brand from idea to a leader in the water risk conversation globally. Reports she has written for and with financial institutions analyzing the impact of water risks on the Power, Mining, Agricultural and Textiles industries have been considered groundbreaking and instrumental in understanding not just China’s but future global water challenges. One of these led the fashion industry to nominate CWR as a finalist for the Global Leadership Awards in Sustainable Apparel; another is helping to build consensus toward water risk valuation. Debra is a prolific speaker on water risk delivering keynotes, participating in panel discussions at water prize seminars, numerous investor & industry conferences as well as G2G and academic forums. Before venturing into “water”, she worked in finance, spending over a decade as a chartered accountant and investment banker specializing in M&A and strategic advisory. Debra left banking to pursue her interest in photography and also ran and organized philanthropic and luxury holidays for a small but global private members travel network She has lived and worked in Beijing, HK, KL, London, New York and Singapore and spends her spare time exploring glaciers in Asia.
Read more from Debra Tan →