From resilience to prosperity: leveraging water nexus opportunities to Innovate 4 Water


At no time in history has the value of water been more evident and the importance of safe and accessible water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), more critical to our present and future state.

If we are to build resilient communities and protect them against shocks and upheaval, such as those brought about by COVID-19 and intensifying natural disasters, we must prioritise water and WASH.

If we are to see these communities prosper, it must start with inclusive and sustainable water and WASH. 

If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, they depend on SDG 6 - water and sanitation for all.

So how do we take communities from resilience to prosperity?

Australia supports and prioritises water for development with an annual investment of roughly AUD130 million, including the Water for Women Fund (WASH) and Australian Water Partnership (AWP). However, globally, there remains an annual gap of USD140 billion when it comes to achieving SDG6. In very real terms, that means 800 million people can't access basic water and two billion are left without access to basic sanitation.

Donor funding alone cannot bridge this gap. So we must look to new ways of working and approach the challenge with fresh ideas. That is why the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Water for Women and AWP are participating in Innovate 4 Water in Brisbane (and virtually) this week.

"It is clear we need new solutions and blended finance is an important part of the toolkit, but is still not well developed for the WASH sector," says Gerard Cheong, Assistant Director, Water Section, DFAT. "Our participation in Innovate 4 Water will help broaden thinking and connections as we progress funding and financing options. The economic return to investments in WASH is at least 1:4 and demand is enormous with billions lacking access. The challenge is to figure out the business case (and mechanisms) while continuing to work towards leaving no one behind."

Innovate 4 Water is a global marketplace for sustainable development, fostering interactions between global and local players from the private sector, the public sector and the civil society to shift financing towards innovative and impactful local solutions. 

"Even before we had a global pandemic to contend with, there were major issues in meeting global water and sanitation demand," says Water for Women Fund Manager, Alison Baker. "COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation, particularly for already vulnerable marginalised groups. Yet it has also affirmed the importance of WASH and of working together to find smarter solutions. Collectively we can do more – which is a win for all!" 

Water for Women is excited to again be part of Team Australia - water partners for development (DFAT, WfW and AWP), an integral partner in the Innovate 4 Water marketplace and to explore innovative approaches to finance for the delivery of global Water Resource Management (WRM) and WASH solutions.  

We particularly look forward to Water for Women partners RTI, iDe and Monash University successfully making pitches to potential investors so that new partnerships can emerge.  

Innovate 4 Water will take place from the 5th-7th August and will explore the following themes:

1. Sustainable planning for health, food, energy, and water
2. Embracing the circular economy
3. Mitigating and adapting to climate change
4. Efficiency in water infrastructure and management
5. Off-grid and distributed solutions
6. Exporting Australian innovation and expertise (AWP theme)
7. Technology investment readiness and hybrid business models
8. Innovative finance for the water and water-dependent sectors
9. From resilience to prosperity (WfW theme)

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