Kate Hughes appointed as Resilient Water Accelerator CEO to drive water investment for millions

11 January 2023
Kate Huges

WaterAid is delighted to have appointed Kate Hughes as its first Resilient Water Accelerator CEO.  

Kate, who started in the role this week (January 9th) will lead on further strengthening the charity’s relationships with governments and the private sector to facilitate sustainable water projects at scale, impacting millions of people on the frontline of the climate crisis.  

Kate has a formidable track record of working on climate and sustainability, most recently as Director for International Climate Finance and Strategy in the UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.  

She led teams working on the long-term global transition to net zero, including for COP26, supporting clean energy transitions, scaling up climate finance, creating sustainable supply chains, and delivering on global climate ambition through the G7, G20 and UNFCCC.  

The Resilient Water Accelerator aims to boost available finance for climate-resilient water programmes by designing low risk, scalable programmes for the private sector to invest in.  

It aims to reach at least 50 million people in water-stressed areas with reliable and sustainable water sources by 2030, with the first projects launching in Nigeria and Bangladesh.  

The Accelerator was set up under The Sustainable Markets Initiative founded by HM The King Charles III in his former role as HRH The Prince of Wales. The coalition is backed by partners including the Bank of America, African Development Bank, Arup and the UK and Dutch Governments.  

Kate Hughes said: 

“Access to clean, safe water is the basis of life – without it, people can’t survive, let alone thrive. And water security is also vital for global security, helping to curb disease outbreaks and pandemics, protecting ecosystems and creating jobs.  

“The climate crisis is a water crisis, its impacts exacerbating an already challenging situation, and we need water projects at scale to support people and countries to adapt to these challenges. 

“Investing in sustainable water systems is crucial for global health, for food security, for nature and for growth. The Accelerator will drive public and private investment to unlock investable opportunities and support millions of people with one of the biggest climate impacts – the access to clean, safe water.” 

In her previous roles, Kate has overseen a range of programmes supporting developing countries in their response to the challenges and opportunities of climate change. Her portfolio included projects to reduce deforestation, mobilise private finance, scale up low carbon technologies and provide innovative technical assistance, drawing on UK clean growth expertise.  

Prior to this, Kate worked on climate, energy, and environmental issues in several Whitehall Departments including International Development; Energy and Climate Change; and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  

Kate has been Chair of the Climate Investment Funds committees, the Green Climate Fund's Investment Committee, and the Board of UK Climate Investments.  

Sol Oyuela, WaterAid’s Global Director of Policy and Campaigns, said: 

Kate Hughes brings incredible experience to the table, and her ability to bring governments and business together will drive the impact we are looking for.  

The Accelerator is now at a stage of kicking off the design of our pilot programmes in Nigeria and Bangladesh, and with Kate Hughes at the helm we can use our work to build a shared vision for water security with governments, communities, water partners and the private sector, to reach millions of people and unlock billions in funding.” 


For more information, please contact: Jemima Young, Senior Media Officer, [email protected] or call WaterAid’s out of hours press line +44 (0)7887 521 552   

Notes to Editors:  


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 wateraid.org/uk, follow us on Twitter @WaterAidPress, @WaterAidUK, @WaterAid, 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.