The Strategic Conference has been developed for water and power global leaders, who seek to successfully navigate the energy transition and embed future-focused digital transformation strategies in response to evolving market and customer needs. It is designed for Ministers, regulators, CEOs and other industry leaders, who have the decision making power to determine the future direction of the utilities sector. The Strategic Conference programme will focus on the following themes: Decarbonisation and Energy Transition Many industries are putting significant efforts to decarbonise their operations and the utilities sector is not an exception. The energy transition has become a driver for new business models and capabilities. Falling prices of renewables and technology advancements have made them an attractive alternative to hydrocarbons. In addition, many countries, including China, India, Russia, UAE and Turkey, are turning to nuclear as a reliable clean energy source. Gas/LNG is also continuing to play an important role in the energy transition. A path toward a carbon-free future requires the industry to address the intermittent nature of solar and wind power by exploring available storage solutions, as well as take advantage of technologies that help improve energy efficiency and achieve operational excellence. In addition, companies must futureproof their grids in response to the increased mass electrification. To keep pace with increasingly ambitious net-zero targets and commitments, power and water utilities should position themselves as proactive leaders within the energy transition, thus, also making themselves an attractive target for new capital investments. Digital Transformation and Technological Innovations Digital technologies are transforming how utilities serve customers, identify market opportunities and plan for long-term growth. Leveraging Artificial Intelligence, robotics, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), digital twins, blockchain, edge computing and other technical innovations enables companies to improve their energy efficiency, reduce equipment failure and optimise demand side management. Advanced sensors and metering technologies are transforming not only electric and water grids but also entire cities. Smart grids handle bidirectional power flows, capture and report large quantities of data, enabling advanced predictive maintenance models, decreased electricity and water losses and lower carbon emissions. The success of smart grids and smart cities depends on the seamless integration of wired and wireless communication amongst all the devices, as well as the ability to develop robust cyber security strategies. Technological advances also call for new capital. Grid investment plans should incorporate a wide variety of new technologies including advanced inverters, grid management and dispatch tools, and grid-level energy storage equipment. Collaboration and Strategic Partnerships With multi-billion dollar projects, partnerships lie at the heart of the utilities sector. Many collaboration opportunities are available on the industry, regional and global levels. Governments and countries can work together to ensure economic prosperity and security of power and water supplies. Utilities, EPCs, technology providers and consultancies can work together to uncover synergies that will drive efficiency, digital transformation and decarbonisation efforts. Electricity suppliers can partner with customers via distributed generation models to achieve mutual benefits. Being a global meeting place for the utilities leaders, the World Utilities Congress helps to forge the existing partnerships and discover new collaboration and growth opportunities. Customer-centric Business Models Customer-centricity together with new technologies are paving the way for new business models and market structures that support existing and new, non-traditional providers. Modern customers have high expectations from their utilities providers, and utilities of the future should move from selling water and power as a commodity to having a segmented value proposition centred on customer needs. Smart end-to-end networks offer businesses the opportunity to improve productivity and efficiency while enhancing customer service. Power and water consumers also have an important role to play in the energy transition. By optimising their usage, customers can reduce their bills, take the pressure off the grids and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Utilities providers should develop comprehensive demand side management models that will empower customers to be active participants in the energy transition. Global Industry Dynamics Global population growth, economic development and rapid urbanisation are increasingly impacting power and water sectors by rising electricity and water demand and putting extra pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The increased demand makes water scarcity an important issue that governments and industry leaders need to address by looking at finding alternative sources to depleted groundwater, which can be enabled by advances in water desalination, water treatment solutions and demand side management. Many countries are also moving from a linear centralised distribution system to a more flexible, complex and decentralised system, generating major investment opportunities, for existing and new players. To effectively incorporate distributed energy resources (DER) into the grid utilities should adapt their tariff schemes to acknowledge different types of customers, define a solution for DER technical integration and put in place process and organisational changes to make all the pieces work together. Circular Economy frameworks offer utilities the opportunity to transform their value chains, reducing or eliminating waste, reusing and recycling resources, which in turn improve efficiencies, reduce costs and decrease carbon emissions. Existing business models need to evolve to enable equipment re-purpose or recycling, better heat waste recovery, carbon capture and use and improved water cycle management systems.