Contributor: Debra Tan

Debra Tan

About 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.

Two Sessions, Five Highlights For Water

An ‘ecological civilization’ is now embedded in China’s constitution and ministerial reform has been tabled. Find out what this means for water in our review of this year’s Two Sessions. Pay attention or risk being blindsided … more

5 Trends For 2018: The Year Of The Dog

We could be heading for dog days this year and China is getting ready with economic planning that considers water and climate. Check out our 5 trends and stay ahead of the pack … more

Hopes & Fears While Remaining Irrationally Exuberant

China Water Risk’s Tan shares her musings from not kidding ourselves, including that tech will solve-all, to adjusting goals & piercing irrational bubbles to reduce waste … more

Toxic Phones: China Controls the Core

We review CLSA U®’s report which warns that transitional risks are abound as China says no to pollution and yes to a high tech future. What are the top-5 ‘bewares’? China Water Risk’s Debra Tan expands
… more

‘Science Unusual’ to Counter Fake News!

Science & policy have their own language but given significant climate risk overshadowed by fake news, can we afford to speak in tongues? Hu & Tan on why it’s time to step up efforts to bridge science and policy with finance … more

Fast Fashion: Sucking Aquifers Dry?

Groundwater is over-extracted to grow cotton. As the world’s largest importer of cotton, is it China’s fault? Or is fast fashion to blame? China Water Risk’s Tan explores trends in the growth across major brands, China’s imports & global cotton production … more

5 Trends For 2017: The Year Of The Rooster

The Rooster crows a new pecking order as China leads the global climate fight & drives structural changes at home. Stay on top with our 5 trends and make sure you are not walking on eggshells but laying golden eggs … more

5 Years On – Have We Made A Difference?

As China Water Risk turns five years old, CWR’s Tan reflects on our work so far. Have we made a difference? Plus, check out her wish list for the next five years … more

Banking in the Age of Water Risk

Are water risks and their potential impacts factored in by banks? Or is ‘water exposure’ just the water used in their office buildings & branches? Tan says prudence dictates we must start to waterproof portfolios … more

China’s Soil Ten

With ~1/5 of China’s farmland polluted, the Soil Ten Plan could not come sooner. See impacts to the “Hateful Eight” polluting industries & get the distilled version of the 231 actions in our review … more

Water & Jobs in China

Happy World Water Day! In this year of Water & Jobs, we look at jobs generated by water in China. Which sectors have seen the biggest fall in job numbers? Which jobs are hot? Does better water mean more jobs? More on China’s job-scape and how water is work in China’s 13FYP … more

Beautiful China 2020: Water & The 13 FYP

China wants to exert tireless efforts to build a Beautiful China where the sky is blue, the land is green and the water runs clear. Find out what this means for water, the environment and the economy in the next five years in the upcoming 13th Five Year Plan … more

China Water Risk’s 5 Trends for 2016

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 … more

Winter is Not Coming

Game of Thrones’ Ygritte might be right; Jon Snow, you know nothing. Tan mulls over the impact of findings from China’s Third National Assessment Report on Climate Change on the future of white Christmases, the Winter Olympics, skiing holidays and why find our inner-Yoda we must … more

Vanishing Ice: Asia Running Dry

The Hindu-Kush Himalayan region plays a vital role in Asia’s water future. It is a source of 10 major rivers which feed 16 countries. After a month in the Himalayas, CWR’s Tan shares her worries over the vanishing glaciers & the lack of cohesive action to tackle real threats … more

China Water-nomics

Will China’s economic development be hampered by limited water resources? The very existence of the Three Red Lines signals that China can’t keep developing the way it has. Read on for why GDP will be capped at 5.7% given China’s water-nomics … more

Still Exposed! Fashion Materials in China

With 32% to 75% of global hides, wool, cotton, chemical fibre and silk either produced in or passing through China via imports, exposure is sky high. China Water Risk’s Tan expands on the future of the industry … more

Made in China 2025: Are You On The List?

How does the new Made in China 2025 Action Plan fit with other ‘Future China’ plans? Are the ten industries in Made in China 2025 the same as the Circular Economy Ten? Find out why which list matters … more

Water Ten: Comply Or Else

China’s new Water Ten Plan sets tough action on pollution prevention & control. While this is good for the water sector, less obvious is who or which sectors will be impacted. China Water Risk’s Tan on why China is serious about its fast & furious pollution reforms to propel China to a new norm … more

Towards Water & Energy Security

China Water Risk published report titled “Towards A Water & Energy Secure China”. Tough choices lie ahead in power expansion with limited water. Find out what strategies are employed and get a comprehensive overview of water risk exposure across China’s power landscape … more

China Water Risk’s 5 Trends for 2015

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 … more

Christmas Came Early

Xi’s carbon emission promise, increased regulatory risk are a few reasons why Debra Tan thinks Christmas came early for China’s waters. Industry beware; as China is expected to aggressively enforce some of these new polices … more

China Water Investments: 3 Thoughts

Investing in the water sector looks attractive with the Chinese government & consumers wanting water tariff hikes. Will water supply or wastewater treatment be the larger market? Debra Tan shares some on-ground views distilled from recent conversations … more

Dirty Thirsty Wars – Fashion Blindsided

CLSA report titled “Dirty Thirsty Fashion: Blindsided by China’s water wars”, examines how China’s water risks could blindside the US$1.7 trillion global fashion industry. Is this the end of fast fashion? Debra Tan expands … more

Avoiding Hydro Wars

With up to 124GW of planned hydropower on China’s transboundary rivers, no wonder regional geopolitical tensions over water is running high. Debra Tan gives the low down on China’s hydropower expansion, are there other options to avoid sparking hydro wars? … more

Pollution: 5 Reasons to Remain Optimistic

Given the recent release of depressing groundwater & soil pollution statistics, Debra Tan gives us 5 reasons to stay optimistic – from changes in the law to water tariff hikes in Beijing … more

Heavy Metals & Agriculture

Check out China Water Risk’s overview of the status of heavy metals discharge into wastewater, priority provinces, overlap with agriculture sown lands, crops exposed and industries targeted for clean-up … more

8 Things You Should Know: Rice & Water

How much of water & farmlands are used to grow rice in China? What about exposure to Cadmium, Mercury, Lead & Arsenic? Can China ensure rice security? Here are 8 things you should know about rice & water in China … more

The State of China’s Agriculture

China’s limited water and arable land plus rampant pollution raises concerns over food safety & food security. Get the latest update on agriculture & water and see why these policies matter … more

The War on Water Pollution

Premier Li Keqiang has just declared war on pollution. Tan expands on the government’s stratagems & offensives and fundamental changes required to shore up the MEP’s arsenal in order to wage a successful war … more

8 Facts on China’s Wastewater

Don’t know anything about wastewater in China? Is it on the rise? Is industrial wastewater under-reported? Is it worse for rural areas? Check out our 8 facts from tech, key pollutants to standards … more

China Water Risk’s 5 Trends for 2014

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 … more

Water: Moving Out of Silos

As part of CLSA’s latest ESG in China report: “Mopping-up”, China Water Risk’s Debra Tan was interviewed on all things water: from water & coal to textiles, food & government policies … more

Pricing Water

With the NDRC’s recent announcement of tiered tariff hikes across China’s cities to rein in top end water users, Tan mulls over the proposed tiered water tariffs hikes and whether price points and switchpoints between tiers are properly set … more

More Power to Enforcement

Debra Tan gives a run down of upcoming “institutional innovations” discussed at the 2013 Beijing Forum and why the path-of-more-enforcement is still full of “areas of confusion” … more

Spend To Quench Coal Thirst

Can China manage to balance her limited water resources & coal expansion? Debra Tan argues that the sector can spend to quench coal thirst with consolidation or more investment in aggressive water savings tech … more

China Hydro: Tough Weather Ahead

Could a shift in weather patterns mean that droughts in the normally water-rich South are here to stay? Could this derail China’s aggressive hydro expansion in Yunnan & Sichuan? Debra Tan expands … more

Groundwater Crackdown – Hope Springs

The economy slows down but the Chinese government speeds up groundwater crackdown with increased transparency, blacklists at both central and provincial levels … more

Water for Coal: Thirsty Miners?

With up to 83% of China’s coal reserves in water stressed & scarce regions, the recent CLSA report asks if there is enough water to grow coal production. If not, what are our options? Debra Tan expands … more

Cancer Villages: Toxic Tipping Point?

With official recognition of cancer villages in 2013, we reviewed 255 media reports of such villages to look at their spread and industries that may be responsible. Is this the start of a long costly road to clean up? … more

New Guard: New Hope for Pollution?

March ushers in the official all change of the old guard. Will the new guard bring new hope for pollution control? China Water Risk takes a closer look at the events leading up to this week’s National People’s Congress meetings … more

2012 Review & 5 Trends for 2013

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? … more

Water Fees & Quotas: Set for Economic Growth?

Debra Tan reviews the new joint standard on water pricing and new provincial quotas on water use, water efficiency and water quality released in January 2013 … more

Follow the UK: Import Water

China & the UK have similar per capita water resources. Find out how the UK has managed economic growth by “importing water” through trade. Should China follow suit? Debra Tan muses … more

Big Spender: Buying Up Water

A savvy investment or villain in the making? Debra Tan looks at the HK tycoons’ water shopping spree, buying up water rights, water philanthropy and venture capital in water innovations … more

Investors Beware: Blackholes & Blacklists

Holdings of Fidelity, State Street, Vanguard, BNY Mellon, Capital Group, L&G, T Rowe Price & Govt Pension Fund of Norway in polluting fashion brands reviewed … more

Water: Shaping China’s Food & Energy Choices

Debra talks about key issues & new trends surfacing from the Fortune Global Forum roundtable and why she thinks the 12FYP Strategic Emerging Industries are the real Magnificent Seven … more

China: No Water, No Power

HSBC asks if China has enough water to fuel its power expansion as China plans to add more than the total installed power capacity of the US, UK & Australia by 2030. … more

Stockholm World Water Week – 8 Top Picks

In case you have not been following the World Water Week, Debra Tan picks eight points of interest around food & energy security: from the taste of waste to solving access clean water for everyone … more

Investors Say: Water Risk is Beyond Pricing

NBIM, APG, GIC, HSBC and APG on why it is important to measure the impact of the environment on business as the value of water lies in business continuity & value of brands rather than water pricing. … more

China: Bullish on Food Imports

Debra Tan explains why depressing statistics on food, water pollution & scarcity and fake eggs paint a bullish picture for China’s food imports … more

Pollution: More Standards, Rubbish & Money?

With new drinking water and pollution standards, will China be able to clean up or will rubbish continue to pile up … more

8 Take Aways: 2 Degrees Celsius+Water

Debra Tan runs through key take aways from the presentations and panel discussions with Civic Exchange HSBC, Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium, Swire Beverages and Veolia Water … more

Elephants in the Room

With coal-fired power plants and hydropower doubling by 2020, Debra Tan discusses coal, financing the power build out and dams. Is a fundamental shift required to work round these elephants? … more

How Much Water Do You Use?

Happy World Water Day! Coffee or Juice? Beer or Wine? Chicken or Cheese? Find out how much water you can save by making the right choices … more

On Being Frank

“Were you surprised at the frank comments of China’s vice minister of water resources?” That was the first question fired at an interview with a “Week in China”. It was referring to Hu Siyi’s stark warning that “water usage had … … more

Agriculture: A Prosperous Ever After?

With recent reports on by the Chinese government, FAO, HSBC and WEF all highlighting agriculture concerns, Debra Tan takes a closer look at food, property. the weather and potential strategies to ensure a prosperous ever after. … more

Food for Thought

Would China import more chicken or corn from Brazil? Should farming regions swap beef with iPads? Will water hikes dampen demand for water? Debra Tan from China Water Risk muses. … more

Just What is Bottled Water?

We probably drink a bottle of water each day but do we really know what’s inside? China Water Risk’s Debra Tan takes a closer look – It might change the way you choose your water … more



  • To receive the latest updates, please register below. Please note that the use of your personal data is set out in our privacy policy.

    * = required