Innovators pledge to invest US$11 bn to solve global water challenges

Seventeen organisations have joined forces to support UN Water Action Agenda, pledging to invest US$11bn in water innovation over the next five years.

The collective commitment was announced at an event organised by water technology company Xylem and Netherlands, convened during the UN 2023 Water Conference. The pledges will be included in the Water Action Agenda, a collection of all water-related commitments to accelerate progress on UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG6) targeting water and sanitation.

Executives from Xylem, French water management company Veolia, Canadian investment firm XPV, water supply system Hydraloop, and German sanitary manufacturer Hansgrohe will be joined by several non-profit organisations, to pledge their commitment to invest in innovative water solutions.

The funds will be directed toward water-related research and development, start-up companies commercialising innovative approaches to water management, and the deployment of new water technologies. The organisations will also commit to ongoing engagement with development agencies, governments, and other stakeholders to facilitate more cross-sector action to solve water challenges.

“Most of humanity’s challenges today stem from our reliance on water, whether for human life or, on a larger scale, economic well-being and prosperity of society,” said Henk Ovink, water envoy of Netherlands. “As water investors and users, the private sector has a role to play. The organisations pledging their commitment are at the forefront of bringing new innovations to water use, treatment, and recycling.”

“For those who can simply turn on a tap, water may not seem like a problem,” said Patrick Decker, CEO of Xylem. “But the UN 2023 Water Conference is a reminder that water challenges are intensifying around the world. Many of the essential technologies already exist, but as climate change progresses, we need more accelerated implementation to increase the resilience and water-security of communities everywhere.”

The inclusion of the private sector in the UN 2023 Water Conference, the first event of its kind since 1977, brings together stakeholders from across governments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, non-profits, academic institutions, and the scientific community to advance ideas that can solve global water challenges.

The event, ‘Private Sector Investment Commitment to Water Innovation’, will convene technology innovators, investors, government, civil society, and development agencies to consider the role of innovation in advancing the UN SDG. Organised by Xylem and the consulate general of the Netherlands in New York, the event will be hosted in partnership with Bluetech Research, Burnt Island Ventures, Evoqua, International Water Association, Mercy Corps, UNICEF, Water Foundry, Veolia, the WateReuse Association, and the Water Research Foundation.