Water financing and partnerships fundamental to achieve SDGs

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Source - International Water Association By Iver Høj Nielsen, Head of P4G Activities, State of Green. The blog post is part of a series of perspectives leading up to the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in Copenhagen in September 2022.

According to the World Bank, we are around US$114 billion short of achieving the UN SDG 6 on water. More precisely, that means US$114 billion per year from now until 2030. Some of the most important challenges around water include lack of access to clean sources and proper sanitation, efficient wastewater treatment as well as building resilience mechanisms against floods and droughts. All of these are further intensified by climate change, increasing global temperatures, and unpredictable precipitation patterns and intensified extreme weather events. The need for impactful action is undeniable. But how do we make ends meet, when reaching our goal on water needs US$114 billion a year and the current Official Development Assistance (ODA) is around US$13 billion? The UN offers a plausible solution to close the financial gap, by strengthening implementation through partnerships, as per SDG 17.

Partnership for innovative SDG6 funding  

Partnerships can be set up in many ways, but they are critical for developing innovative solutions to meet SDG 6 and climate related challenges, especially those causing loss and damage in developing countries. Global cooperation, involving a diversified stakeholder portfolio ranging from international finance institutions to private corporations to development aid organisations and NGOs, helps to deliver innovative solutions that build sustainable and resilient economies worldwide.

At P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030), one previous example of innovative funding partnership included blended finance on water loss in Vietnam. In some places, fighting water loss may be the first step to ensure clean water access, and this project saw scalable fruition through focused investments on IoT pressure management technologies, reducing non-revenue water whilst delivering energy savings.

The partners of the project were Grundfos, a private company, IFU – the Danish Investment Fund for Development Countries, and non-profit Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST). The partnership was established to finance a water loss challenge and at the same time address SDG 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG 12, ensuring a more responsible consumption and production of water.

Matching market-based interests with impact-driven investors allows for outcome-focused partnerships, bridging development and investment agendas to replicate and scale transformative models of impact. These partnerships are an example of innovative funding for solutions to challenges beyond water, touching other related aspects including circular economy, energy, and industries such as sustainable food and agriculture or zero waste cement production. 

IWA Summit  

At this year's World Water Congress and Exhibition in Copenhagen (11-15 September), a high-level political summit on 12 September will serve as platform for speeding up implementation, at global, national, and local scale, of SDGs related to Water for smart liveable cities. This Summit is organised by the International Water Association, the Danish Water and Wastewater Association, the Municipality of Copenhagen, the public-private not-for-profit partnership State of Green, that serves as the national Danish P4G platform, and Confederation of Danish Industry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment of Denmark and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

SDG 6 on 'Clean water and sanitation' impacts many other SDGs as they directly or indirectly depend on sustainable water solutions, making SDG 6 a natural departing point for the summit and highlighting the importance of SDG17: 'Partnerships for the goals'. Making ends meet through partnerships on water financing will serve as a key to action on climate and the SDGs. The summit will also serve as the space for discussing recommendations for the upcoming UN Conference on the Water Action Decade to be held in New York in March 2023 and for gathering support for joint action towards the 2030 Agenda.

Looking ahead to the upcoming COP27 on climate change and the UN Water Midterm Review on Action on Water and Sanitation in 2023, it is needless to say that this year's World Water Congress and Exhibition will mark a pivotal time on the way to 2030. 


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