Finance Ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean Target $372 Billion Investment in Water and Sanitation

19 April 2024
Hanna, who is 3-years-old, washes her hands at a water station at the Los Planes Migration Station in Gualaca Panama
UNICEF/UN0837521

Washington, D.C., April 19, 2024 – Finance ministers from across Latin America and the Caribbean convened today in Washington, D.C., to discuss mobilizing $372 billion over the next five years to combat the region's water and sanitation crisis.

The meeting, which gathered close to 100 ministers and development partners, was hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on the sidelines of the World Bank Spring Meetings. It was co-convened by UNICEF and the Sanitation and Water for All global partnership (SWA).

Climate change and increasingly frequent extreme weather events pose a threat to water and sanitation in the region, where over 450 million people lack adequate sanitation and almost 200 million lack continuous water services.

Highlighting the economic rationale behind investments in water and sanitation, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates that an annual investment of 1.3 per cent of the regional GDP until 2030 could universalize access to these essential services. This investment is projected to create up to 3.4 million green jobs each year, demonstrating the potential for water and sanitation improvements to spur economic growth and environmental sustainability.

Finance ministers noted the meeting comes at a critical time for the region, which faces debt equating to 117 per cent of its GDP. Discussions centered on finance and policy strategies such as increasing public finance, leveraging the role of development banks and attracting private capital. Also addressed was the importance of climate finance, reducing energy consumption, and implementing both mitigation and adaptation strategies to support the sector.

Securing clean water and sanitation is also crucial for protecting the health and well-being of children and families. It not only establishes the groundwork for a thriving generation but also holds significant importance in shaping a more promising future for the region.

Catarina de Albuquerque, CEO of SWA: “We need to see a 16-fold increase in current rates of progress for water and a 7-fold increase for sanitation in Latin America and the Caribbean. Those numbers sound daunting but with ambitious and bold leadership, particularly when it comes from the top – from Heads of State and members of national governments – we know change is possible. Water and sanitation are human rights and they are also catalysts for economic development, improved public health, education and job creation.

Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF: “It is critical that all governments designate safe water, sanitation and hygiene as essential public services. I urge Government Ministers in Latin America and the Caribbean to prioritize water, sanitation and hygiene in their national budgets and development plans. Allocating adequate resources to water, sanitation and hygiene lays the groundwork for a more resilient, equitable, and prosperous future for children and their families.

ABOUT THE LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN FINANCE MINISTERS’ MEETING

The Latin America Finance Ministers' Meeting gathers ministers of finance from around the region to discuss the political and institutional reforms required to make better use of existing financing. It also seeks to attract additional resources for the water and sanitation sector to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more: https://www.sanitationandwaterforall.org/2023-finance-ministers-meeting-0 

Media contacts

Sara Alhattab
UNICEF Nueva York
Tel: + 1 917 957 6536
Sendai Zea
Communication Specialist (Emergencies)
UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: +507 6821 0843

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