On 2 December 2020 at 12 PM Maldives, Finance Ministers from across Asia and the Pacific Region, including the Maldives, met together virtually for a Regional Finance Ministers Meeting (FMM). During the meeting, they discussed how they can make better use of existing financing, and attract additional resources for the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector. They also had the opportunity to develop and strengthen partnerships amongst them for smart investments in WASH.
The impact of COVID-19 on economies worldwide shows us that solving WASH issues go beyond the scope of public health. Now, more than ever, finance ministers must seek opportunities to collaborate with their international counterparts, to develop effective financial policies that contribute to lasting solutions.
The FMM was organised by Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), a global partnership of governments, donors, civil society organisations and other development partners, brought together with the common goal of achieving universal access to clean water and adequate sanitation. The Asia and the Pacific Regional meeting was co-convened by UNICEF, World Bank Water Global Practice, and the Asian Development Bank.
Unlike previous years, this year’s meeting was held virtually due to the current worldwide health crisis. It was also broadcasted online to the global audience.
Meeting between civil society organisations and private consultancies
In preparation for the FMM, a meeting of civil society organisations (CSOs) and private consultancies was held on 29 November 2020. During this meeting, representatives from Watercare, Small Island Geographic Society and Save Maldives Campaign discussed the need for creating civil society networks and accountability platforms to discuss challenges in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a focus on WASH and also protecting the environment.
At this meeting participants recognized the discussion as timely, considering that countries across the regions are utilizing multi-stakeholder networks and collaboration in the identification of priorities in the WASH sector. Similar practices in the Maldives could support the development of CSO asks for effective use of available financing in addition to the development of strategies and partnerships for obtaining further resources to ensure the achievement of universal access to WASH services in the country by 2030 (SDG6).
The participants identified the following areas of focus: improvement of governance; institutional development; capacity building; the development of specific action plans for the establishment of water and sanitation research facilities; and assisting educational institutions to develop academic programs to support the development of the local water and sanitation industry in the context the developments in water and sanitation technology among academics and practitioners, and policies to optimize human capital and engagement of CSOs in all areas of the water and sanitation sector.