The phrase is most commonly associated with the London Underground, but at the moment it’s one of my favorite short, precise messages to use in New York. I am participating in the UN’s General Assembly, with special emphasis on participating in workshops, meetings and debates focusing on sustainable development. And, as always, my primary focus is on water, continuing work with the Sustainable Development Goal 6.
It sets an ambitious target of securing universal access to water and sanitation by 2030. It’s a great goal. And an important goal. But maybe just ambitious enough to be nearly impossible to reach. Investments in water infrastructure needs to triple in order to reach the goals, according to new estimates from The World Bank. But money and investments do not flow easily to often low prioritized water infrastructure in developing countries. So that is most likely not going to happen, if we do not mind a very crucial gap: the gap between large investments and water utilities in countries where water infrastructure is almost not existing or flawed. We need to find ways to make it possible for investors and water utilities – not least in water stressed, developing countries – to meet, and make a business on water at a fair price.
This, we need to do together. We need private investors and businesses to come together, and we need to identify the pain points of the water utilities, so we – between the public and private spheres – can find lasting and scalable solutions, which can make the much needed investments feasible.
We need to think in new ways. We need to move away from business as usual. Water technology companies such as Grundfos can be part of this. Maybe we can handle some of the operational cost. For instance by making it possible for utilities to finance their pumps and solutions from the water and energy savings, they generate. This might be a way of heightening the quality of the water infrastructure, while meeting the difficulties in financing.
This is just one idea. From one company. We need more ideas. From companies, investors, utilities and organizations.