Faced with the cascading crises of a global pandemic, accelerated climate change and ecosystem collapse, a coalition of governments, businesses and water, development and climate organisations are working together through the Resilient Water Accelerator to drastically increase finance for climate-resilient water sources.

The impacts of climate change 

The climate crisis is a water crisis, and it is the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities – those who do not have essential services such as clean water close to home – who feel the effects first and most severely. Water is critical for nature and freshwater ecosystems, for domestic use and human wellbeing, for climate risk management, and for economic prosperity. 

Unreliable access to water increases the vulnerability of communities to climate-related challenges, such as changing weather patterns, less predictable rainfall, pollution and increased exposure to disease. In Bangladesh, for example, rising sea levels are increasing groundwater salinity and contributing to high blood pressure and heart disease among coastal communities. For many, basic water and sanitation services can be the difference between coping and not coping with the devastating effects of climate change. 

Ensuring water security – sustainable, resilient water resources and services – is the best way to address climate vulnerability and inequalities, and reduce the effects of climate change to allow communities, nature and economies to thrive.

Getting money where it matters

The funding available for adaptation action is poorly targeted

The most climate-vulnerable countries are among the world’s poorest, and they do not currently receive the necessary financial support to invest in resilient water infrastructure and services.

Of total global climate finance flows, only 5% is spent on helping communities and business to adapt, and water programmes received less than 3% of all tracked global climate finance.

A tiny fraction of the climate funds available is allocated to supporting communities by ensuring their access to water. Only around 1% of public international climate investment goes to protecting basic water services for poor communities. This equates to as little as US$1 per person, per year in some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, despite the effects of climate change being felt predominantly through water.

However, increasing funding alone will not solve the problem. We also need to see the enabling conditions that will ensure money gets where it is needed most. Barriers to building effective climate-resilient water programmes include:

  • a lack of localised data required to generate high-quality proposals
  • the absence of a comprehensive cross-sector approach to addressing systemic water issues, and
  • a complex funding landscape for climate-resilient projects.

To ensure funding reaches those who need it most and builds community resilience, these barriers must be removed. 

Resilient Water Accelerator

Facilitated by WaterAid and the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI), the Resilient Water Accelerator brings together governments, the private sector, development banks, aid agencies, civil society organisations and experts from the environment, development, water and climate sectors to build a pipeline of funded programmes that could reach 50 million vulnerable people in water-stressed areas in a decade.

The Accelerator will support the design and feasibility of ambitious, comprehensive, climate-resilient water security programmes, unlocking new sources of transformational blended finance and securing safe and sustainable water for all.  

The Accelerator is expected to deliver:

  • Comprehensive programmes in five to six water-stressed countries to target critical risks to water systems and deliver environmental gains, including carbon reduction, in a way that encourages diverse sources of finance
  • Confidence in replicating these investments at scale, through proofs of concept, the increased availability of data and improved capacity across governments, finance organisations and communities

As the climate crisis intensifies, it is clear the global community must step-up its efforts to tackle climate impacts immediately.

Contact us

Email us to find out more about the Resilient Water Accelerator or get involved.

Revolutionising finance for climate-resilient water projects

As part of our work to break down barriers to investment, we commissioned a Landscape Analysis of Climate Finance for Water from the Overseas Development Institute. Published in November 2020, the report indicates the desperately low levels of climate finance available for adaptation interventions, especially for basic water, sanitation and hygiene. This was updated in November 2022.

Even if we take all the available climate finance and Overseas Development Assistance currently available for water, it is nowhere near enough to meet the huge investment we need year on year.

In 2022, we worked with Systemiq to explore how water sector actors can boost global investment in water with blended finance solutions, unlocking this opportunity to address the water crisis and release economic value.  

Read the research: Mobilising capital for water: blended finance solutions to scale investment in emerging markets

Climate change

Learn more about why and how we work on climate change

Resilient Water Accelerator

Visit the dedicated website for the Resilient Water Accelerator

Get in touch to find out more about the Resilient Water Accelerator

Top image: Mayaman Malle waters onion crops in the women's market garden in Segou Region, Mali, March 2022.

Last updated: July 2024