When we launched the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) with partners in 2017, we did so because we believed a truly programmatic partnership, linked fully with operations, could make a real difference in delivering the Water Global Practice’s vision of ‘A Water Secure World For All.’ Two years later, as the GWSP’s second Annual Report Connecting the Drops is released, we can see that belief was entirely justified.
The stories captured in Connecting the Drops illustrate exactly how and why that decision has paid off handsomely. The GWSP is generating knowledge and delivering solutions in some of the most challenging contexts on earth, be they low-income countries, or areas afflicted by fragility, conflict and violence (FCV.)
But knowledge on its own has little impact. As such, perhaps GWSP’s biggest strength is its ability to bring knowledge into implementation. GWSP generates a lot of its knowledge through rigorous analytical work, but much of what you will read about in the report comes from the day-to-day lessons provided by its deep engagement at the country level through lending operations. As such, the GWSP is integrated and well-aligned within the World Bank structure and benefits from the feedback loop between operations and knowledge.
GWSP is about impact – good outcomes at both the global and the national level. All these outcomes musts be achieved in ways that recognize and respond to the linkages between climate and water.
This also means building capacity and strengthening partnerships. Through its regular training, tailored learning materials and extensive network, GWSP is both a catalyst and convener. Again, this is particularly essential in low-income countries or FCV contexts.
The water and sanitation picture is increasingly challenging. New problems emerge on all too-frequent basis. Just this year, the World Bank and GWSP report ‘Quality Unknown’ revealed - with new detail and striking clarity - how deteriorating water quality threatens economic growth, harms public health and imperils food security.
Yet there are many reasons to be hopeful. Water is moving up the policy agenda and new solutions emerge just as frequently as problems. For example, in partnership with the World Resources Institute through the flagship report ‘Integrating Green and Gray – Creating Next-Generation Infrastructure’, the World Bank and GWSP showed how natural assets – such as mangroves and wetlands - can be harnessed to improve water security and climate resilience.
Earlier this year, the Water GP launched our new Strategic Action Plan. It contains three pillars:
1 – Sustaining water resources by improving resource management and valuing, storing, and sharing water resources.
2 – Delivering services by developing universal access to water and sanitation, and optimizing water use in agriculture.
3 – Building resilience by investing in information to address growing uncertainty, building robust systems that can better withstand climate extremes and addressing fragility in water-stressed countries.
GWSP allows us to bring all the three pillars together into one unified approach so that we can manage water holistically. With barely over a decade left to realize the ambition of the SDGs, GWSP forms a vital foundation to the World Bank’s commitment to deliver on those promises.