Opening remarks by Angel Gurría
Brasilia, Brazil - 21 March 2018
(As prepared for delivery)
It is a great pleasure to open this session on the role of development finance to achieve the water Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6).
The SDGs include a dedicated and ambitious water goal, as well as explicit references to water in the goals on food security, healthy lives, sustainable consumption and production, and terrestrial ecosystems. The question is: how can we deliver on these ambitions?
There is a robust economic case for investment in water, which we helped to make in the OECD-GWP report Securing Water, Sustaining Growth. However, this does not translate into financing flows commensurate with the challenge.
For instance, to achieve safe water supply and sanitation by 2030 – just one part of SDG 6 – it is estimated that we would need to see about USD 1.7 trillion in additional capital investment between now and 2030. Operating and maintenance costs will also need to be scaled up.
Much more needs to be done to mobilise, target, and deliver investment in water. Allow me to highlight four key actions:
First, we need to maximise the value of existing assets. Improving the operational efficiency and effectiveness of existing infrastructure and service providers can reduce overall investment needs and improves creditworthiness, which can mobilise further investment.
Second, we need to design investment pathways that maximise water security returns over time. This means being vigilant about the quality of investment, not only the quantity.
Third, we need to ensure synergies with investments in other sectors. Massive investments in urban development, food or energy can either enhance water security, or increase related risks. The importance of valuing water was forcefully reiterated by the High-Level Panel on Water earlier this week.
Finally, we need to scale-up financing through improved risk-return frameworks. Two months ago, the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) released the Blended Finance Principles, working in partnership with the development finance community. Experience with blended finance remains limited when it comes to water. We now need to understand why this is so, turn the Principles into actions, and scale up public and commercial finance for water-related investments.
IFIs have a distinctive role to play in all of these areas. You are not mere financing institutions. Your end goal is one that we share at the OECD: contributing to sustainable growth and development outcomes.
I hope that today’s meeting will provide the opportunity for a frank exchange of ideas on how to harness existing assets for water; on how to ensure resources help deliver water security and growth that is sustainable; on how to ensure water concerns are translated into investment in a range of areas – urban development, agriculture, and energy, for example.
While I will need to depart shortly for another commitment, I leave you in the able hands of Xavier Leflaive, one of the OECD’s Senior Advisors and top experts in the field of water.
I very much hope that the outcomes of today’s discussion will feed into the Roundtable on Financing Water – which we set up last year with the Netherlands and the World Water Council.
The challenges ahead are great. We all need to step up our efforts to design, develop, and deliver Better Water Policies for Better Lives. Thank you.