DuPont, Starbucks, Ecolab, Gap and Reckitt join US Government to invest US$140m in water access fund

Chemicals company DuPont announced that it is making an impact investment of US$3m to increase access to safe water and sanitation. The WaterEquity’s Global Access Fund IV, with US$140m in investor commitments toward a goal of US$150m, aims to reach five million people across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

The Water Resilience Coalition (WRC) — a CEO-led initiative committed to reducing global water stress by 2050 — is a product of the partnership between the UN Global Compact and the Pacific Institute. It launched the WRC investment portfolio and unveiled an initial supported vehicle, the WaterEquity Global Access Fund IV, announced ahead of World Water Day and the UN 2023 Water Conference.  

Five WRC member companies — DuPont, coffeehouse company Starbucks which is the fund’s corporate anchor investor at up to US$25m, food safety company Ecolab, US clothing retailer Gap and British multinational consumer goods company Reckitt — have come together to invest alongside a US$100m commitment from the US International Development Finance Corporation, the US Government’s development finance institution.  

WaterEquity’s Global Access Fund IV addresses the global water and sanitation crisis in emerging markets by providing capital to financial institutions to enable them to scale their water and sanitation lending activities. Through affordable microloans, low-income consumers are empowered to install water or sanitation solutions within their homes, such as a water connection or toilet. At a larger scale, the programme seeks to drive economic growth, support healthy communities and ecosystems, enhance resilience to climate change, and promote gender equality.

“DuPont is making this investment because achieving water access is fundamental to solving the global water crisis,” said Alexa Dembek, DuPont chief technology and sustainability officer. “We align our water stewardship values to our investment strategies — empowering people to gain access to safe water and sanitation.”

Two billion people around the world currently live in water-stressed areas. Based on projected demand, if no action is taken, it is predicted that within the next 10 years the world will face a 40% shortfall in freshwater supply. By 2050, more than half the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas.

“Some US$300bn of business value is at risk due to water scarcity, pollution and climate change. It is vital the corporate sector invest to protect this natural asset. Water is a shared resource and so we can only safeguard it to ensure the quality and quantity of its availability if we work together,” said Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and executive director of the UN Global Compact.

The WRC investment portfolio charts a pathway for long-term sustainable investments in water when global stakeholders are calling for new investment strategies for water and increased investments from the private sector.

The pipeline identifies a range of investment mechanisms that amount to at least US$1bn. These include private equity investments; blended finance mechanisms; microfinance and impact bonds to drive investment into water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); nature-based solutions; and water and climate resilience.