HRH The Prince of Wales’s SMI launches the Resilient Water Accelerator to protect 50 million people from climate and health threats with clean water

Posted by
Maya Verber
22 March 2021
WaterAid/ Eliza Powell

As part of his Sustainable Markets Initiative, HRH The Prince of Wales, is today launching the Resilient Water Accelerator, which aims to reach 50 million people in water-stressed areas with reliable and sustainable water sources by 2030.

This will mean people having 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.

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.

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 combatting the overlapping crises of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change - ensuring for example that people across the world have access to soap and clean water to wash their hands and help stop the spread of the virus and that water services need to withstand the impact of extreme weather events - and agreed that urgent action is needed to secure more finance for water programmes.

The Resilient Water Accelerator will identify 6 locations in Africa and South East Asia, where a new approach can be tested, to address holistic threats on the ground, from pollution of water sources, 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, ensuring that financing 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.  

HRH The Prince of Wales said:

“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.”

Tim Wainwright, WaterAid’s Chief Executive, said:

"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.”

The most climate vulnerable countries are amongst the world’s poorest and need increased investment in water adaptation strategies but 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’[1].

Mr. Md Tazul Islam, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives for the people’s republic of Bangladesh said:

“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.”

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

Research has found that under 1% of total global climate investment goes to protecting water services for poor communities[2], despite the effects of climate change being felt predominantly through droughts, floods, and rising sea levels – all of which impact access to clean water.

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director said:  

“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 well-being 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.”


Notes to Editors:

About the Sustainable Markets Initiative

The Sustainable Markets Initiative aims to lead and accelerate the world’s transition to a sustainable future by putting Nature, People and Planet at the heart of our global value creation. To drive transition to a sustainable future at a global scale, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, through his Sustainable Markets Initiative, convenes ‘coalitions of the willing’ across industries, investors, countries, academics and civil society. His Royal Highness launched the Sustainable Markets Initiative at the World Economic Forum 2020 Annual Meeting in Davos.

Since its launch last year, with HRH’s leadership, the SMI, co-chaired by Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, has hosted more than two dozen industry and investment roundtable discussions, bringing hundreds of business leaders into industry specific taskforces to drive action and acceleration at a global scale. The SMI has also, in the past year: engaged with select countries to support their national economic transition efforts; supported the One Planet Summit and the related 2021 Great Green Wall Investment Forum; launched the Natural Capital Investment Alliance; launched a network of Chief Sustainability Officers; issued a public statement from its Financial Services Task Force; and launched RE:TV, a content platform showcasing the most inspiring business innovations and ideas for a sustainable future.

About WaterAid

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 27 million people with clean water and 27 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at

  • 785 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.[3]
  • 2 billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[4]
  • Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's around 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[5]
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[6]
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[7]

Just add water: a landscape analysis of climate finance for water
WaterAid commissioned a report by the ODI to look at how much money was going to adaptation and resilience globally; how much of that was going to water and WASH programmes; where that money was coming from; and where it was going to. This report, published in November 2020, is available at:

Key findings:

The research compiled and analysed estimates of climate finance from publicly available sources including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Climate Policy Initiative, Climate Funds Update, The Climate Bonds Initiative, the International Development Finance Club and the Joint MDB Climate Finance Group. It compared these with additional variables sourced from World Bank Open Data and The German Development Institute’s NDC Explorer.

For more information, please contact:

Sustainable Markets Initiative
Laura Round, Director of Communications, [email protected], +44734791147

Maya Verber, Senior Media Officer, [email protected], or Fiona Callister, Global Head of Media, [email protected], or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552 or email [email protected]


[1] This means water must be low carbon and support water ecosystems, like rivers and wetlands, whose health is a fundamental building block in continued availability of water resources.

[2] Just add water: a landscape analysis of climate finance for water,

[5] Prüss-Ustün et al. (2014) and The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2018)

[6] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage

  • In 2018 the water sector receives $6.4billion of $32 billion of public, international climate finance for adaptation – 20% despite seeing many of the impacts of climate change. However, only around $724million of that finance went to basic WASH – 0.99% of total climate spend and barely 11% of total water spend.
  • Countries who identify water as a climate-vulnerable sector or priority for adaptation receive US$1 of this finance per person per year. WaterAid’s own report released in March 2020 found that half of countries where more than 1 in 10 people do not have water close to home get less than 77p per person per year in climate finance for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) service adaptation.
  • Around 5% of the $546 billion USD pledged globally to fight climate change in 2018 was allocated to projects which focused on adapting to withstand the impacts of climate change
  • Almost all the top 20 recipients of climate-related development finance for water are middle-income countries. Only one, Bangladesh, is a least developed country (LDC).
  • For water-focused flows where income group was recorded (87% of the total) Least Developed Countries received 18%.
  • The significant majority of public, international climate finance to water has been provided as repayable loans: 86%, around half of which were non-concessional/market rate.
  • There is also a need to ensure wider flows of finance to water support the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. Little is known about how public subsidies for water and sanitation – around $320 billion per year even without India and China – contribute to, or undermine, climate change adaptation. The same applies to further billions in private finance for water-related investments. Better mapping these flows would be a first step to harnessing them in support of vulnerable people and communities.