Creating Water Equality through Financial Policy
In the 2022 World Bank Annual Meetings, water accessibility was one of the critical issues being discussed. Today, with extreme weather, deforestation, and continued destruction of the natural environment, more than 2 billion people (25% of the global population) still lack access to clean water. The World Bank recognized that its networks and capital infrastructure could play a part in mitigating global water insecurity from a financial standpoint. Therefore, to combat the issues, the bank has implemented various international schemes, which could present unique opportunities to businesses.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP
The World Bank notes that in Africa, the continent that constitutes the majority of the 2 billion people lacking clean water mentioned above, only about 0.5% of the overall GDP is dedicated to solving water-related issues. As such, in the annual meetings, the World Bank has recognized the importance of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to spearhead the improvement of the water situation. Recently, it has launched a pilot program in Benin, which allowed private sectors with resources and capabilities to address issues such as water supply construction and water purification. The potential businesses can apply for long-term government funds to undertake necessary investments. Apart from that, the World Bank has worked with the private sector and NGOs in other African countries such as Liberia, Zimbabwe, and Congo to assess and strengthen the delivery of rural irrigation and waterworks. Thus far, these pilot programs have been successful—more than 130 million people gained access to clean water for the first time.
THE PRIVATE SECTOR’S ROLE TO PLAY
From these World Bank initiatives that foster PPPs to address water issues, businesses can expect more government and intergovernmental funding in this area. With this, companies that have expertise in the field could consider possible contributions in the areas with pressing issues. The implications of their actions will go beyond enabling people access to water: not only cultivating a reputation as a sustainable and caring firm but also creating a more robust ecosystem in which to operate. That aside, water inequality damages the two areas companies benefit from—quality human development and strong economic growth. The latter spur transactions and allow firms a steady and sustainable stream of means of production—labor and raw materials. By participating in PPP to bridge this water gap, firms can benefit from the government's capital, understand regional problems, and create solutions that translate into business success.
As water accessibility is a fundamental human right, every sector must contribute its parts to the solution. The World Bank has reinforced that PPP is one of the most effective ways of tackling this issue, which presents a business opportunity. They can become the engine of change that drive a better quality of life for the people, and in turn, that betterment will come back to enrich their ecosystem—true inclusive growth.
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