A recent article by Impax Asset Management, a specialist asset manager investing in the transition to a more sustainable global economy, highlights the challenges the world faces in ensuring everyone has access to clean water and sanitation.
The theme of this year’s World Water Day on 22 March was “leaving no-one behind”. This applies to both emerging markets and the developed world and offers investors a deep well of diverse investment opportunities.
The UN’s sixth sustainable development goal (SDG) is to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water & sanitation for all’ by 2030. The need to develop water infrastructure in the developing world is understood, but access to clean water is an issue for the developed world, too.
An ever bigger, broader investible universe
Impax has been researching and investing in water-related companies since 1999 and has run a dedicated water strategy since 2008. In recent years, the universe of investable companies has increased and the growth of many water sector companies has accelerated.
Climate change, pollution and a growing, increasingly urban population all drive demand that innovation and technology can help fulfil. Governments, public bodies and private industry are all investing in new and upgraded infrastructure, and the investment momentum keeps gaining pace.
Access and changing preferences
In emerging markets, ‘leaving no-one behind’ mainly requires the development of previously non-existent water infrastructure, driven in no small part by urbanisation, growing populations and changes in consumption patterns that demand higher standards of living.
And it isn’t just about access to clean water and water treatment. Many items taken for granted by urban dwellers require a significant amount of water to produce. A hamburger, for instance, requires 660 gallons (2 090 litres) of water to make.