“We are nurturing the future triggers of change that can actually transform a society,” said Pia Yasuko Rask, SafeWater Senior Director at Grundfos, in her keynote remarks for the P4G Summit Thematic Session on “Carbon-neutral Smart Water Management for Climate Resilience.”
Speakers at the session emphasized the collaboration needed to overcome challenges to deliver safe water and sanitation access. Moderated by Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy, Executive Director of the International Water Association, the session highlighted the real opportunity for innovation that lies in in the developing world because there is not the legacy water infrastructure as in the rest of the world.
Opening the session, State Minister Shahriar Alam of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared the climate change challenges faced by Bangladesh. In response, the country has created a climate trust fund dedicated to climate adaptation and resilience. Minister Alam underscored the value of P4G’s partnerships in Bangladesh, including Clean Water for All, to recognize the multidimensionality of water infrastructure and access.
Rask focused her remarks on the need for bold change to make the business case for water access. Rask shared Grundfos’ launch of a business to mainstream their products and services to the most vulnerable populations in the developing world. To build the bridge from aid to trade and from grant to growth, Rask emphasized the value of P4G in providing the space to collaborate and innovate to explore what is commercially viable.
Karin Finkelston, Vice President of Partnerships, Communication, and Outreach at the International Finance Corporation, shared the transformational impact delivering safe water will have and the need for innovative, market-driven, and long-term solutions to ensure that access. This means bringing in the private sector through key partnerships. Finkelston noted that the alignment and coordination with P4G and others proves essential in scaling up collaboration and finding proactive solutions to these challenges.
The panel session brought together speakers from P4G partnerships to identify and advance innovative water enterprises providing proven solutions on the ground and scaling up the finance needed to accelerate these solutions. Panelists were asked to share how their solutions unlock investment for transformative change and what specific gaps in the investor marketplace their solutions seek to address.
Vedika Bhandarkar, Chief Global Impact Officer of Water.org shared their work with financial institutions for technical and capacity building help to make loans to households at the base of the economic pyramid. Sharing several examples, Bhandarkar noted that these partnerships with financial institutions have enabled 36 million people to get access to clean water and sanitation. Yet, these efforts need to continue to replicate and scale. For Bhandarkar, this is where P4G can shine a light on investment, help models expand, and bring in other investment managers to meet the great need.
Building on Bhandarkar’s comments, Josien Sluijs, Managing Director of Aqua for All shared the transformative impact of access to capital because public funding available is vastly insufficient to meet the need. This is why organizations like Aqua for All and Water.org can collaborate with P4G to strengthen enterprises and create a pipeline for investors in the water sector. Sluijs also spoke about the intersectional nature of water sector solutions, such as partnerships to prevent garment industry pollution in local water supply.
Valentin Post, CEO of FINISH Mondial, shared the need to bring in finance for local entrepreneurs to start constructing and building in a way that will ultimately institutionalize solutions. FINISH Mondial has taken this approach through sanitation training in Kenya to scale and mainstream solutions. Post stressed that there is a clear case for investment, and P4G is well suited to accelerate that.
Bringing in the local perspective, Robert Bunyi, CEO of Kenya Pooled Water Fund shared his organization’s work to fill the gap between government and private funding by securing local capital to achieve Kenya’s goal of universal water access. Bunyi explained how the Fund sells long-term bonds on the market to give local companies the unique ability to directly invest in themselves. “When you give this kind of power to the water companies, we end up with local decision making, local solutions, and therefore that’s where the sustainability starts,” Bunyi said.
Closing the session, P4G’s Director of Partnerships Robyn McGuckin reflected on the innovative solutions that present a clear path forward for achieving clean, safe water access for all. P4G hopes to continue scaling and accelerating the kind of partnerships needed to drive a just transition.
Watch the session recording here.