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financing of water security – Schlettwein

Concrete steps must be taken immediately to stop all illicit outflows, be it tax or any other form of smuggling out of revenue, to achieve water supply security and sustainable sanitation in Africa.

This was said by minister of agriculture, water and land reform Calle Schlettwein when he recently addressed the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, accompanying vice president Nangolo Mbumba.

Schlettwein said at least US$30 billion a year in additional financing towards water supply and sustainable sanitation would be needed in Africa by 2030 and could be used as a minimum benchmark figure, although Africa’s prosperity should become the benchmark.

Speaking at the summit under the theme ‘Accelerating Climate-Resilient Investments in Water’, Schlettwein said the continent’s natural endowment must generate the commensurate rate of return needed to achieve prosperity targets.

“We cannot continue to sell our minerals, metals and other natural assets for what others determine. We must develop our agricultural and conservation/biodiversity potential and generate a return to achieve prosperity,” he said.

Schlettwein said investments into Africa’s green industrialisation opportunities like green hydrogen, solar power, and hydropower must be derisked.

“Africa is paying premium derisking costs, which on average carry a price tag of a third of total project cost,” he said.

Schlettwein said investments in water can only be properly considered while one recognises that the world is facing a three-faceted crisis.

“First, we face the climate change crisis of which the effects are now clearly visible, with droughts and floods increasing in intensity, out-of-season storms, intense wildfires, flooding, unprecedented heatwaves, glaciers melting and rising ocean levels.

“In fact, the world is in a water crisis, as all these climatic changes are having severe effects on the water cycle, making secure water supply more difficult, more expensive and often out of reach for developing countries,” he said.

Schlettwein said the water crisis is not receiving the required attention. The freshwater cycle (‘green’ water) is in crisis, with ripple effects into food security, health and sanitation. And development, as a whole, is in jeopardy.

“The architecture of the climate change agenda, therefore, must be corrected to include water as an equally crucial aspect on the agenda, which must include the financing of the water sector,” he said.

Schlettwein also said the debt crisis, exchange trends and the weaponising of financial rules are fuelling inequality and making the future prospects of developing economies difficult.

The debt crisis is pushing many African economies into default, he said.

“Again, Africa is the hardest hit by inflationary pressures, with food and fuel prices climbing beyond affordability thresholds for large sections of the population,” he said, adding that the current international financial architecture shows it can no longer deal with a globalised world.

The former finance minister said shortfalls in the required funding to address climate change and related water-cycle aspects remain significant.

He said the proposal to step up domestic financial resources is pivotal, but by no means a silver bullet solving everything.

“We are facing a global water crisis, which requires global solutions, specifically the financial needs of the water agenda,” he said.

The minister also pointed to political crisis, with war and political instability on the rise.

He said the multilateral system of the United Nations is seriously skewed, and no longer fit for purpose with the majority of the global citizens excluded from decision-making.

He stressed that financing wars squander all the funds needed for addressing the climate change agenda.

“Money is wasted to destroy human lives and necessary infrastructure, and it is again wasted when the destructive results of violent conflict need to be rebuilt.

“Africa and the developing economies are paying collateral damage for wars they are not involved in.

This limits Africa’s ability to fund climate change and development,” he said.

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