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Affordable and reliable access to infrastructure is critical for development, with major implications for health, education, social mobility, firm productivity, climate change, energy, forests and biodiversity. But access alone is not enough. What we really need is sustainable infrastructure. Sustainable infrastructure will provide the services and foundation for growth that are needed to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity – but to get there, we must substantially increase financing for infrastructure in the developing world.
Robert C. Brears, author of The Green Economy and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, discusses innovative policies that create positive interdependencies and synergies across and between the nexus sectors while reducing trade-offs in the development of a green economy.
Oceans cover three-quarters of the globe, and a staggering 80% of all life on Earth is found hidden beneath their waves. They also represent an enormous economic opportunity, which is why the “Ocean Economy” is driven by a combination of growing ocean-based industries, jobs and rising incomes as well as concerns about growing pressures on dwindling marine resources and response to climate change.

Water is fundamental to food production and ecosystem services as well as vital for industrial production and energy generation. However, nearly 700 million people currently lack access to clean drinking water, 2.3 billion lack access to improved sanitation services and around 1,000 children under five die every day as a result of lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation services (WHO, 2015,  World Bank, 2015). With water demand projected to increase, the World Bank estimates a 40 per cent shortfall between forecasted demand and available supply by 2030 (World Bank, 2015).

The challenge lies in finding a way to use the world’s water more efficiently and make it available to all at a reasonable cost, while leaving sufficient quantities to sustain the environment. Green growth policies in the water sector can address issues of both quantity and quality by encouraging water-related innovation and investment in green infrastructure, and through integration with policies in other relevant sectors.

Relevance to SDGs

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 addresses the sustainable management of water and includes the preservation of water-related ecosystems, including wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.

Explore green growth resources relate to SDG 6:

SDG 6.2
   SDG 6.4
     use efficiency     
   SDG 6.5


University of Southampton, Global Climate Forum, GGKP Annual Conference
Hu_The spatial exposure of China's infrastructure system to flooding risks in the context of climate change
Environmental Change Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University, GGKP Annual Conference


Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)