Key messages from the panel were the importance of good governance to enable investment, the need for mechanisms to strategically channel water and climate investments, and the importance of partnerships in facilitating these shifts.
Water security is key to achieving SDG 6 and pivotal for all other SDGs. But while water security is one of the highest priority areas in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement – and poised to play an equally central role within Agenda 2030 – a financing gap exists: the countries most in need of financing also need support in establishing an enabling environment for investment.
In her opening remarks, GWP Chair Oyun Sanjaasuren stated that "the challenges are daunting and complex in nature, but, if managed well, water can be an enabler and not a barrier to sustainable growth”, adding that “the need for finance doesn't only mean money, money, money - it also means good governance". She elaborated further on this later.
In his keynote speech, Howard Bamsey, Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund, argued that the funding needed to achieve water security exists, but must be strategically leveraged from both the public and private sector: "the trick will be to change the investment pattern so that it's available where it's needed." But he warned that the private sector “will not invest until the water governance is right, from policy development to law and regulation, down to local governance arrangements.” Therefore supporting water governance will be a vital part of GCF's work.
Bamsey closed the event by launching GCF's Gender and Climate Change Toolkit, the Fund's latest effort to offer concrete guidance to advance inclusion through climate finance.
The panelists commented on what is needed to unlock financing for improved water security in the developing world. Hon. Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Water and Sanitation for the Republic of South Africa gave her perspective on current priorities in her country to address water security issues: “firstly, institutional arrangements; secondly governance; and the third one is on partnership, partnership, partnership - particularly those focused on building capacity, embracing innovation, mobilisation of resources and issues around implementation and performance monitoring."
Jennifer Sara, Director of Water Global Practice with the World Bank Group, highlighted the urgency of a coordinated response to SDG 6: “The amount of investment that is needed is three times more than what we have historically seen in investment. First, we need more advocacy – no water equals no food, no energy, no economic growth... how can we wake people up? Secondly, we need to look at how we spend existing resources better, how do we make sure they are well targeted, well used and well maintained. Finally, we need to find ways to mobilize commercial financing - there is a lot of money in countries that is not being used productively.”
David Hebart-Coleman, Water Resources and Climate Change Specialist with the African Development Bank, emphasized the importance of matching the appropriate funders to the appropriate projects: "I look at this from the perspective of our project preparation facility, the African Water Facility. We look for good proposals, screen them and take them through the project cycle. We are currently looking specifically for ways to involve the private sector more for bankable projects."
Asma Bachikh, President of World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW), brought the perspective of civil society and youth to the discussion. “While the SDGs are ambitious, they are not impossible”, she said – as long as three key elements are in place: “Active engagement of youth, concrete solutions, and long-term vision.”