What is Water+?

In late 2023, the Water Unite Impact investment vehicle, developed by Water Unite in collaboration with Wellers Impact, completed its "pilot" phase and became a fully-fledged impact fund. The lessons learned from this pilot were shared in a highly-attended webinar hosted by Water Unite, which had over 100 attendees from DFIs, Family Offices, Funds, Global Corporations, and non-governmental organisations. Further insights were shared at our COP28 event "Scaling Innovations for People and Planet - How Can Corporates Shape the Future of Water?" held in the blue zone and supported by the Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet (GASP). 

Through these learnings, the Water Unite Impact investment vehicle has developed a “Water+” approach in order to address the WASH sector’s rapidly changing landscape. The central idea behind "Water+" is to shift from water as an "industry vertical" focused on WASH to water as a transversal economic input that underpins all human activities. The value of water as a core input to the global economy places it at the centre of sustainability.

A crucial factor to consider is the value-at-risk, which has been rapidly increasing in response to climate change as there is a greater risk of disruption in the supply of natural resources that feed the global economy. In the case of water, the value-at-risk is massive, given the growing water scarcity in most regions of the world. This problem is likely to cause social disruption and civil unrest, sovereign conflicts and economic recession. 

This requires a holistic approach to water preservation as the number one life resource to prevent risks and increase social, environmental and economic resilience. Water Unite Impact seeks to contribute to innovative solutions to solve market gaps in water-related problems. Our investment thesis has five pillars including:

  • Access to clean water

  • Access to sanitation/toilets

  • Wastewater circularity

  • Plastic/solid waste circularity

  • Water preservation

Solving problems through investments requires selected innovative solutions that can disrupt established models with low concern for water preservations. We believe the economic value of saved water will increase massively in the future, as will the size and value of enterprises that lead the effort to do so. Along with this, the value of a water-safe environment will scale to transform the global economy. In this transformation, water will be at the forefront, on par with energy and agri-food. Water Unite Impact is resolutely positioned as a lead innovation-enabler in the water-food-energy nexus.

A recently published report by Global Water Intelligence  “Investing in a Water-Secure Future, Value Creation Strategies in a Changing World”  (February 2024) provides further insight on this matter. According to this report, the "water-dependent" economy is estimated to generate USD 86 trillion in revenue by 2024. This is close to the size of the global economy in 2023, which the World Economic Forum estimates to be worth USD 105 trillion. If as much as 82% of the global economy is dependent on water, water management is of massive value. More specifically, the water handling economy, in which water is a major process input, generates USD 19.3 trillion of revenues. Transformation must happen to all economic activities around water. Whilst the same applies to other key natural resources, ultimately these all depend on water management.

Historically, we’ve failed to consider the limitations of water in our thinking (mental economic models), our economic systems (economic models), and daily routines. The use of water is set to be guided by metrics such as water rights to enhance its value and produce compensation mechanisms that reward a water-secure economy.  We expect the emergence of impact assets in this field to be similar to what we are already seeing in carbon and biodiversity compensation, such as using carbon rights and biodiversity scores. 

As impact investors, our job is to facilitate the acceleration of business models that trigger change and speed-up economic transformation. We spot the best and help them to grow using a blend of tools and approaches at the crossroad of asset management, venture capital investment and venture philanthropy. Water Unite Impact is a unique funding model that combines private and corporate capital, including both grants and investment funds. Our stakeholders seek exposure to the future transformation. Investing into selected start-up movers and shakers is a way to track what will work best and position themselves for future acquisition. Investments made so far are emblematic of a triple-bottom-line approach.

If you are interested in the future of water, please come forward or interact as we welcome like minded entrepreneurs, investors, co-investors, experts and thought leaders in this field.