Today marks World Water Day, a day that coincides with a landmark set of announcements and commitments made as part of a first ever White House Summit to Build a Sustainable Water Future. While everyone knows that water is essential to life and access to clean, safe water resources is foundational to a strong economy, very few of us act like we know it absent an emergency that focuses our attention. But those emergencies are occurring more and more often these days, and that isn‘t just by happenstance. The pressures on our water resources and infrastructure continue to grow from population growth, aging infrastructure, poor land use choices, and climate change. Recognizing these problems—as well as new opportunities—a group of funders came together last year to form the Water Funder Initiative (WFI). WFI seeks to bring more philanthropy to the water sector and has outlined action plans that will enable those philanthropic dollars to do the most good for people and the environment. Pisces President David Beckman and I are pleased to be part of the WFI steering committee, and our foundation is proud to be a financial supporter of the effort.
WFI approached the challenge of framing a solution set of pressing water problems with real deliberateness. WFI held forums all across the Western US and interviewed scores of water experts from a wide range of backgrounds. WFI’s findings and recommendations are now available in a blueprint designed to guide and inspire philanthropic efforts to make our water systems more balanced, resilient, and sustainable.
Toward Water Sustainability: A Blueprint for Philanthropy (the “blueprint”) is a roadmap for collaborative and expanded philanthropic action to advance sustainable water management at a scale never before attempted in the water field. This document, available at www.waterfunder.org, describes the need and opportunity and describes the six priority strategies that emerged from the Water Funder Initiative’s consultation with experts and stakeholders:
- Shape healthy water markets: Meet changing needs, reduce over-allocation, and embed social equity and environmental considerations into equitable and transparent markets.
- Develop new funding sources: Expand and diversify funding for sustainable water management and infrastructure, including by properly valuing water.
- Improve water governance: Promote governance structures that reduce over-allocation, protect environmental values, support disadvantaged communities, and respond to climate variability.
- Drive decisions with data: Accelerate the development of open data and information systems to support sustainable management.
- Strengthen communications and build political will: Improve the field’s strategic communications capacity and build the political will and constituencies needed to support water management reforms.
- Accelerate innovation: Accelerate development and deployment of innovative technologies and practices to advance goals in the urban, agricultural, energy, and environmental water sectors.
The Pisces Foundation is proud to partner with the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Energy Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, and Water Foundation to guide and support WFI.
Following the launch of this blueprint, WFI will be seeking to expand its philanthropic partners and to put together projects in all of these areas for further water sustainability in the U.S. For more information on WFI, see www.waterfunder.org, which provides the full blueprint, an executive summary, graphics, frequently asked questions, and other resources.