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The Resilient Water Accelerator

HRH The Prince of Wales’s SMI aims to protect 50 million from climate change with resilient sources of clean water
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
The Resilient Water Accelerator

Main image: WaterAid/ DRIK/ Habibul Haque

As part of his Sustainable Markets Initiative, HRH The Prince of Wales is today, on World Water Day (22 March), launching the Resilient Water Accelerator; the aim is to reach 50 million people in water-stressed areas with reliable and sustainable water sources by 2030.

This will give people access to clean and dependable water services for vital protection against threats like the current Covid-19 pandemic and the devastating impacts of the climate crisis.
The Resilient Water Accelerator, which is being led by international development organisation WaterAid, will bring together key governments (United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Burkina-Faso, Nigeria, the Netherlands, city of Maputo), private sector leaders (Deloitte, Arup, CDC Group), development banks (World Bank), development agencies (United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF, and experts (World Resources Institute, International Water Management Institute, Sanitation and Water for All) to ensure that more finance is fast tracked towards providing and protecting communities’ vital water services.

Boosting finance for water

The launch of this initiative follows a pledge at the Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Roundtable on Water in London, at WaterAid’s Water & Climate Summit, to work towards boosting available finance for climate-resilient water programmes.

Over the last year, the Sustainable Markets Initiatives’ Water & Climate Taskforce has been working to turn this pledge into a reality.

This Task Force will integrate with broader SMI sustainable agriculture, agroforestry and forestry projects, to complement the efforts of the Water and Climate Finance Initiative Task Force and the critical role water plays.

The role of water

HRH The Prince of Wales recently hosted a discussion attended by Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank; Brian Moynihan, chairman and CEO of the Bank of America; Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF; Justin Abbott, Global Water Skills leader at Arup, Sir Graham Wrigley, chairman of the CDC Group and Betsy Otto, director of the World Resource Institute’s Water Program, amongst others.

Attendees discussed the critical role that water plays in combating the overlapping crises of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

People across the world need access to soap and clean water to wash their hands and help stop the spread of the virus, and water services need to withstand the impact of extreme weather events.

Attendees agreed that urgent action is needed to secure more finance for water programmes.

‘The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the need to ensure access to clean water services around the world. Since the first meeting in March of last year, the Water and Climate Finance Initiative Task Force has worked steadfastly towards achieving this, by boosting climate funding for comprehensive scalable resilient water programmes. I am delighted that the Resilient Water Accelerator is launching today, which will work to provide reliable and sustainable water sources in countries that are battling the devastating effects of the climate crisis. 

‘I look forward to seeing further cross-sector collaboration and I hope that the Task Force continues to foster a diverse range of partners and proposals to find the ambitious solutions that are all too vital.’


Building resilience

The Resilient Water Accelerator will identify six locations in Africa and South East Asia where a new approach can be tested to address holistic threats on the ground.

These include pollution of water sources and rising levels of water-stress, exacerbated by dwindling ground-water supplies.

The coalition will work together to show that practical action to build resilience is possible, at a critical year for global climate and health discussions.

The goal is to ensure that finance for water programmes becomes a top priority for governments across the world. The coalition is targeting location finalisation by September 2021, with work on the ground set to begin in January 2022.  

‘As the world hopes to emerge from the dark cloud of Covid 19, we have a real chance to seize the even bigger challenge of climate change. Without a reliable source of safe water, people cannot protect themselves, not just against disease but also the devastating vagaries of changing weather patterns.

‘Climate change means more floods, more droughts and more severe storms and dramatically increases the risks to communities that already do not know from one day to the next whether they will get enough clean water for their basic needs. This initiative aims to reach 50 million people, in some of the world’s most marginalised communities, with reliable and sustainable water services.

‘As we head into the crucial climate negotiations at COP in Glasgow later this year, this work will show that practical solutions to the water and climate crisis exist.’

WaterAid’s chief executive

Fit for the future

The most climate-vulnerable countries are amongst the world’s poorest and need increased investment in water adaptation strategies, but they fail to secure vital financial support from international funding bodies.

The Resilient Water Accelerator, in partnership with national governments and local communities, will support country efforts to secure climate finance, ensuring that despite the many challenges they face, vulnerable people on the frontline of climate change will have reliable clean water ‘fit for the future’.

‘Global adaptation action needs more effort given the scale of the devastation being caused by the impacts of climate change. A low carbon future is much appreciated, there will still be numerous people in Bangladesh and around the world whose access to water and sanitation is under threat and for whom even a small investment will have a meaningful impact.

‘We must come together as an international community to ensure finance and investment reaches these vulnerable communities as quickly as possible, something the Resilient Water Accelerator will help us to do.’

Honorable Minister, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives for the people’s republic of Bangladesh

Water and children’s wellbeing

Currently, only a tiny fraction of the finance necessary is available to protect this most precious resource, to protect nature and to protect people.

Research has found that under 1% of total global climate investment goes to protecting water services for poor communities, despite the effects of climate change being felt predominantly through droughts, floods and rising sea levels – all of which impact access to clean water.

‘No one suffers from the effects of climate change more than children. The degradation of the world’s most valuable resource – water – puts children’s wellbeing and survival at risk.

‘To avert a water crisis, we must scale up water infrastructure to reach the most vulnerable communities, and do so in a way that is sustainable and resilient to climate change. We can only achieve this with innovation, increased investment, and partners across all sectors – and the Resilient Water Accelerator is part of the solution. As safe water becomes more scarce, our collective action becomes more urgent than ever.’

UNICEF’s executive director

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