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Water economy: deciphering the challenges, financing the opportunities

The following research report draws on the basic fact that there can be no life without water. When scientists search for inhabitable planets, the very first question they ask when gazing into the endless Universe is whether the conditions on a given planet are compatible with the presence of water in some form. Yet down here on the Planet Earth, water only too often receives little attention. Water tends to be “invisible” in our daily lives in the sense that we only start paying attention to water when something goes wrong.

Accordingly, it has a triple purpose:

First, deciphering the main water challenges and risks;

Second, understanding the role of institutions, policies and the private sector in turning these challenges into business opportunities;

Finally, outlining the role of green & sustainable finance in ensuring that economic activities able to provide solutions for water-related issues have the access to capital at the scale commensurate with the magnitude of these challenges.

Given the pervasiveness of water in natural processes and human activities, this study uses United Nations’ framework of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as Ariadne's thread to understand how water relates to the functioning of the biosphere and to socio-economic development. The report starts by describing the functions of water in the biosphere, emphasizing its role in providing a foundation for human development by maintaining the health of the natural environment. Subsequently, the focus shifts to the relationship between water and socio-economic development and to the practical role green & sustainable finance can play in tackling water challenges.