When Davos Promises, Who Pays?

When Davos Promises, Who Pays?

London, UK – No doubt many good intentions will be put to bed at Davos this week. Sustainability, climate change, plastic pollution, mental health and much more will all be discussed, debated and deliberated upon. Commitments will be made, targets set, goals agreed. But considering the fact that there is already a persistent $2.5 trillion annual financing gap standing in the way of the agreed upon 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that drive much of the action, the question remains. Who will pay for it all?

Given the relatively precarious state of many country’s finances, it seems unlikely that nation states will want to pick up the bill. Foreign aid is already looked on with distrust by large sections of the electorate. Little wonder that The Global Future Council on Development Finance has already recommended that countries should pivot from “funding” to “financing”, rather than relying on official development assistance (ODA) and other public funding.

The answer to the funding crisis may be closer than the great minds at Davos think and lies in innovative new finance models such as the micro-levy on water sales that Water Unite are already having success with. The concept is simple. Participating retailers contribute one cent to Water Unite for every litre of water sold. And it soon adds up. Water Unite is looking to raise US$100-$200 million in the next two years and, if every retailer joined up, billions could be raised over the next decade. Collaboration for scale – to use the retailers’ own strategy.

Money raised is used to invest in innovative, cutting-edge projects and models for tackling water poverty, poor sanitation and plastic pollution.  This is an area where innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs are coming up with life-changing ideas that desperately need investment. Water Unite recognise that not all of the projects they invest in will succeed, but that when they do the rewards for communities can be exceptional.  


The micro-levy model is a simple, sustainable, easily understood way to ensure that investment gets where it will do most good. As Chris Sellers, Water Unite’s CEO, says “There’s an environmentally-aware generation searching for effortless solutions to complex problems. They want to help, they just need a way that makes it easy and affordable. The micro-levy is a great way to do that.” 

Political and business leaders at Davos should all take note, instead of passing the buck when it comes to the thorny question of financing Sustainable Development Goals, the answer may already be refreshingly simple.

This media release was submitted by waterunite.org.

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Feature image via United Nations.

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