Governments back urgent action on water finance at historic conference

23 March 2023
Tim Wainwright, CEO of WaterAid UK, Lord Goldsmith, Minister of State UK Government and Ani Dasgupta, CEO World Resources Institute

As climate change increases the intensity of droughts and floods, putting water for people and ecosystems under pressure, the UK and Dutch governments have pledged action to fast-track water programmes fit for climate funding. 

Today UK Minister of State Lord Goldsmith and Dutch Minister Harbers announced initial funding for the Resilient Water Accelerator, an initiative targeting investment at speed and scale into climate vulnerable hotspots backed by WaterAid, Arup, African Development Bank, and the Sustainable Markets Initiative. 

Speaking at the UN Water Conference – the first conference of its kind for a generation – Lord Goldsmith, Minister of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: 

“Water is our planet’s lifeblood. We depend on it for everything. And yet years of abuse and neglect have left our fresh water polluted, diseased and exhausted. Natural systems have been degraded, leading to ever increasing droughts and floods. And the effect on humanity, particularly the poorest, is dire. So the time for talking is over; we need to get a grip. 

 “The UK Government is proud to provide seed funding for the Resilient Water Accelerator to complement the FCDO’s Water Governance programme. This new initiative will deliver private investment alongside the British International Investment and the Private Infrastructure Development Groups and kickstart a huge wave of water investment so vital to climate resilience. At the UN Water Conference I am challenging all involved to identify positive actions and commit to turning words into reality.” 

In addition to $300,000 from the UK Government, the Dutch Government has also backed the initiative with EURO200,000. Dutch Minister Harbers said: 

“The UN Water Conference is a historic moment, which the Dutch Government is proud to facilitate, but we are not here to rehearse the many challenges we face, but to inspire action. That is why I am pleased to back the Resilient Water Accelerator which is already targeting areas on the front line of the climate crisis in Nigeria and Bangladesh. We know that if we are to have a water secure world we need to ensure water is reliable and it is available for all – and I welcome the ambition of this initiative to facilitate projects which do exactly that.” 

Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of WaterAid UK, said: 

“The climate crisis is a water crisis and if societies are going to be ready for the challenges of this coming decade we need to look to act decisively to deliver water security for all. 

“We need governments, businesses and communities to understand the water risks they face and the huge benefits to lives and livelihoods of early action. The Resilient Water Accelerator is focusing on areas already facing major water and climate impacts - whether sea level rise in coastal Bangladesh, or flooding and pollution in Africa’s largest city – to demonstrate how investment can make the difference between slow onset disaster and a sustainable and resilient economy fit for the future.”  

This investment will bring together water users, experts, policy makers and investors in Lagos and coastal Bangladesh to identify the biggest threats to water, and work with these groups to build a shared water vision as the basis for an ambitious water security programme. It will also identify the potential for future investment so that we can get money where it matters. 

Find out more here.


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Notes to Editors: 

The Resilient Water Accelerator, launched by HM King Charles III, aims to boost the resilience of 50 million climate-vulnerable people living in water-stressed areas by 2030. It is a multi-sector partnership which brings together governments, business, private finance, and civil society to support the design and feasibility of ambitious comprehensive climate-resilient water security programmes, unlocking new sources of transformational blended financing, and securing safe and sustainable water for all. It was announced at COP 27 by SMI Chair and Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and is supported by WaterAid, UK Government, World Resources Institute, Global Water Partnership, the Dutch Government, and the African Development Bank. 

The Resilient Water Accelerator aims to improved climate resilience, water security, access to clean water and hygiene, and commercial viability of water investments by developing  

comprehensive programmes that target critical risks to water systems and deliver environmental gains, including carbon reduction, in a way which crowds in diverse sources of finance; 

increased confidence in replicating these investments at scale, through proof of concept and increased availability of data and improved capacity across governments, finance organisations and communities;  

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water and nearly 29 million people with decent toilets. 

For more information, visit our website, follow us on Twitter @WaterAidUK, @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress, or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. 

  • 771 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home[1]. 
  • Almost 1.7 billion people in the world – more than one in five – do not have a decent toilet of their own[2]. 
  • Over 300,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's more than 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes[3]. 
  • Investing in safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services provides up to 21 times more value than it costs[4]. 

[1] WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation. 

[2] WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation. 

[3] WaterAid calculations based on: Prüss-Ustün A, et al. (2019). Burden of Disease from Inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Selected Adverse Health Outcomes: An Updated Analysis with a Focus on Low- and Middle-Income Countries. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. vol 222, no 5, pp 765-777. AND The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2020) Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 

[4] WaterAid. (2021) Mission-critical: Invest in water, sanitation and hygiene for a healthy and green economic recovery.