The $200 million Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) was launched in July 2017. Building on a nearly half-century of collaboration driven by the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), the Water Partnership Program (WPP), and others, the GWSP aims to make the ambition articulated within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality.
The GWSP has identified five priority themes for action:
- Sustainability – Sustainability is ultimately about ensuring that available resources today can continue to deliver benefits to future generations. The partnership focuses on two critical aspects for ensuring long-term sustainability of water investments. Firstly, the sustainable management of water resources. This means securing the long-term availability of water resources, considering the impacts of population growth, rapid urbanization and climate change. Secondly, infrastructure assets should be adequately built and maintained, to ensure for example that handpumps do not break down prematurely or that treatment plants are not abandoned for lack of adequate maintenance.
- Inclusion – Inclusion is the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups who are disadvantaged based on their identity, to take part in society. Water belongs to everyone and yet many are excluded from its benefits and often from ownership and control of this critical resource. Ensuring that a project is inclusive enhances the inclusion agenda requires better knowledge on the nature of water inequality, enhancing capacity and putting in place incentives that will result in better outcomes. Underlying such design also requires strong institutions that will hold state and service providers accountable.
- Institutions – Expanding access to and improving the quality of services can only be achieved and sustained if the institutional arrangements provide the right incentives and resources and the organizations tasked with service delivery also have the requisite capacity. Institutions comprise the formal and informal rules of the game within which these organizations operate and, through them, impact the quality and sustainability of services. To the extent that providers of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and irrigation services are (quasi) government entities, they are influenced by the broader governance environment and the institutional architecture of the public sector that goes beyond the water sector. To strengthen institutions and accountability for service provision, GWSP works to understand the rules of the game and incentive structures, grounded in local cultures, economies, and political circumstances.
- Financing –Financing needs to expand access to safely managed water to deliver on the SDGs. Sanitation services alone have been estimated at US $114 billion per year up to 2030. That’s vastly more than the amount historically invested to expand access, and much more will be needed to deliver universal access and to manage water resources and infrastructure sustainably. A two-pronged approach is needed. Firstly, improving the financial viability of the water sector to ensure that “water can pay for water”, while ensuring affordability of services for the poor. Secondly, leveraging commercial and non-state sources of financing will be critical so that the sector can tap new financial sources.
- Resilience - Management of water resources and water facilities will increasingly be subject to shocks in years to come. That’s because climate change is predicted to increase climate variability and extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts. Resilient solutions call for strategies and tools at the country, basin, and project level capable of incorporating not only climate and disaster risk consideration into the analysis, but also innovative solutions to ease water scarcity constraints as well as socioeconomic and environmental considerations. Building climate resilience will require developing tools and approaches that can help save lives and livelihoods. Resilient water services (water and sanitation, irrigation, etc.) are better able to adapt to shocks and stresses and continue delivering essential services to the population.
Of course, these themes do not exist in isolation and need to be rolled out simultaneously so that actions under each of these themes can mutually reinforce each other and can contribute to the many other SDGs with which they are so closely interlinked.
The GWSP will primarily focus on advancing knowledge and building capacity. It will support client governments to achieve the water-related SDGs through the generation of innovative global knowledge and the provision of country-level support, while leveraging World Bank Group financial instruments and promoting global dialogue and advocacy with key partners and clients to increase reach and impact. This Partnership will provide new opportunities to test and expand innovations, build country capacity where needed and inform client country demand and World Bank operations.