• WRI-supported Water, Peace, and Security Partnership to support governments in building capacity to reduce risks of water-related conflicts
  • WRI-supported ACWA Platform and Fund to offer cities throughout Africa technical assistance and financing to implement climate resilient water solutions
  • Six African cities commit to implement 90 water resilience initiatives, with support from WRI’s Urban Water Resilience Initiative

New York, NY (March 22, 2023) — World Resources Institute (WRI) is announcing two major new commitments as part of the Water Action Agenda, organized by the UN 2023 Water Conference, the first summit of its kind in nearly 50 years. The commitments address one of the biggest humanitarian challenges that countries face today: a growing water crisis, fueled by climate change, that is affecting billions of people’s security, livelihoods and wellbeing.

With water-related conflicts on the rise, WRI’s Water, Peace, and Security Partnership will build governments’ and communities’ capacity to assess potential risks and improve water management, turning the vicious cycle of water conflict into opportunities for cooperation. 

As Africa’s cities are rapidly growing and facing devastating climate impacts, WRI’s Urban Water Resilience Initiative will support African cities in developing plans to build water resilience and implement high priority water resilience projects using a blended public-private finance approach.

These commitments come at a time when four billion people — half of the world’s population — experience water scarcity at least part of the year. Climate change is significantly worsening the problem, intensifying floods and droughts. Inadequate management of water systems further hinders progress, and many cities in developing countries lack the capacity to keep up with climate impacts and rapidly growing populations. All these factors are contributing to a rise in water-related conflicts. Yet solutions exist, and their economic benefits far outweigh the costs.

“With the stakes of global water crises growing higher and higher, we cannot lose sight of our vision: a future where communities are prepared for intensifying droughts and floods, where cities can reliably provide clean water to their fast-growing populations, where violent conflict does not erupt due to water scarcity,” said Ani Dasgupta, President and CEO of World Resources Institute. “The economic case for action could not be clearer. Securing water for our societies by 2030 could cost just over 1% of global GDP. It’s ambitious, but with strong political will, it’s absolutely achievable.”  

Commitment from the Water, Peace, and Security Partnership:

WRI, as a member of the Water, Peace, and Security Partnership, commits to work with governments, NGOs, donors and local communities to significantly increase the scope and scale of the initiative, which is currently funded through 2024. All governments, NGOs, communities, donors and investors participating in the Partnership are to commit to the goals of SDG6; use advanced approaches to assess water-related conflict risks; and governments need to develop policies, plans and incentives to transform water conflicts into cooperative opportunities.

The Water, Peace, and Security Partnership (WPS) and implementing partners commit to:

  • Build: Build the capacity of government entities, investors, NGOs and local communities to assess water-related security risks and implement measures to reduce the risks of water conflict and encourage collaboration on water policy.
  • Monitor: Assist governments and other stakeholders in developing monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) systems to track the implementation of agreed-upon interventions and the health of freshwater systems they are designed to support.

“Countries around the world are facing immense water stress fueled by climate change, growing populations, and lack of capacity, and we are seeing how these crises can drive violent conflict,” said Charlie Iceland, Interim Director, Water Program, World Resources Institute and a lead on WPS. “Yet we have the data and solutions to turn water crises into opportunities for peacebuilding. That’s why the Water, Peace, and Security Partnership is significantly ramping up our support to governments and communities to identify potential conflicts before they happen and build their capacity to address them.”

The Water, Peace, and Security Partnership — a collaboration between the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a consortium of six partners: IHE Delft (lead partner), World Resources Institute, Deltares, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, Wetlands International and International Alert — was founded in 2018 to develop innovative tools that identify and address water-related security risks. WPS, with support from the Netherlands Government and GIZ, is currently working in four regions, including Mali, Iraq, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Commitment from WRI’s Urban Water Resilience Initiative:

The commitments supported by the African Cities Water Adaptation Platform (ACWA Platform), a coalition of 24 organizations including WRI’s Urban Water Resilience Initiative, include launching a new suite of technical assistance service offerings, tools and trainings to help cities across the African continent develop strategic water resilience plans and implement bankable projects. The ACWA Platform is a first-of-its-kind offer for cities, delivering coordinated capacity building and technical assistance programs throughout the project lifecycle including policy analysis, data analysis, integrity assessments, project preparation and financial structuring. 

“Investment in water resilience is well below what’s needed to sustain cities’ existing needs and meet growing demands,” said Smita Rawoot, Urban Resilience Lead at WRI. “The challenge is immense, especially in Africa’s many fast-growing cities, which will double in size to 1.5 billion people by 2050. Meeting this challenge will require new kinds of mobilization and cooperation across local and national governments and joined up resources from development organizations and the private sector — a central goal of the ACWA Platform and the ACWA Fund.”

The ACWA Fund, the ACWA Platform’s sister initiative, has been endorsed by five key development and financial institutions (the European Investment Bank, SouthBridge Investments, Kigali International Financial Centre, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Africa Water Investment Programme), with the aim of supporting 100 African cities in using blended finance strategies to implement 200 high-impact, low-carbon water resilience solutions. The Fund will provide USD $222 million in grants, USD $288 million in concessional finance and leverage an additional USD $5 billion indirectly to scale investments in water resilience. This Fund is projected to directly benefit 29 million people, improving access to water services and reducing risks from water-related shocks; save 137 million cubic meters of water through water use efficiency and increased reuse, recycling; and create 64,000 jobs. 

Additionally, six cities collaborating with WRI’s Urban Water Resilience Initiative — Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, Ethiopia; Kigali and Musanze, Rwanda; and Johannesburg and Gqeberha, South Africa — committed to implementing more than 90 priority water resilience programs and projects. These commitments, developed by the cities with support from the ACWA Platform, are published in water resilience action plans. These cities and their commitments will be showcased in the Cities Solve, Cities Deliver campaign during the conference, designed to celebrate local government leadership on water resilience.

The Urban Water Resilience Initiative is a joint project by WRI Africa, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, and WRI’s Water Program. Nearly 30 regional and global partners are also involved, including: ICLEI Africa, Resilient Cities Network, Arup, Cap-Net UNDP, South African Cities Network, Zutari, Rwanda Young Water Professional, EiABC Addis Ababa University, African Centre for Cities, Future Water Institute at University of Cape Town, Harmaya University, GSM Association, CDP, Practical Action, Water Integrity Network, WaterAid, Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, City of Johannesburg, Water Partnership Rwanda, and City of Kigali, Musanze District.

About World Resources Institute:

World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization with offices in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, and regional offices for Africa and Europe. Our 1,700 staff work with partners to develop practical solutions that improve people’s lives and ensure nature can thrive. Learn more: WRI.org and on Twitter @WorldResources.