This was my first experience at the Skoll World Forum and I was immediately struck by two things. Firstly, I discovered a community of entrepreneurs, driven by a sense of frustration and united by a desire to correct injustice, reform failing systems and prepare the world for a healthier and safer future. I sense this group is motivated more by indignation than by emotion. It was refreshing to know that there were so many people fighting for change in innovative and inspiring ways. Secondly, spending a week at the Forum in Oxford proved to me that it is both energizing and motivating to take time out of the day-to-day in order to learn, share and be inspired. What a difference this can make.
Back at the office, reenergized and even more focused and determined than we were pre-Forum, we have two key challenges ahead of us. The first is to change long-established international financing systems to improve water and sanitation services for low-income urban consumers living in towns and cities around the world. We need to get ourselves right under the skin of international finance institutions (IFIs) and governments in order to influence millions of dollars of investment in water and sanitation. We are aiming to close six deals with IFIs and governments, which will result in significantly increasing the impact of large scale water and sanitation infrastructure investments for low income urban consumers. On top of the four deals we have already closed, this will give us a total of ten, which is enough to demonstrate that the established systems can be changed for the better and development banks can begin to rediscover their purpose.
Our second challenge is to find a balance between demonstrating impact in our six countries to deliver the ambitious targets we have, while at the same time expanding our sphere of influence. To address this, we have established a strong research component paired with global dissemination methods, and have launched WSUP Advisory – a mechanism through which will work with other organizations globally to scale up and expand sustainable urban water and sanitation services that reach everyone living in cities, rich and poor. This is work in progress. We are already starting to make inroads but there is a long way to go and we are dedicated to putting all of our energy into disseminating successful models to other countries and taking WSUP’s impact to scale.