Spinning economic growth and cultural preservation in Sarawak
Financing Climate-Resilient Water Infrastructure
There is an urgent need to expand and rehabilitate water supply and sanitation infrastructure globally to reach billions of people who are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Water supply and sanitation infrastructure has been historically underfunded. According to the World Bank, investments in water supply and sanitation infrastructure must at least triple to fully achieve SDG6. Climate change will exacerbate the water crisis, particularly for those living in poverty, as increased storms, floods, and droughts damage infrastructure and increase water stress. While infrastructure investments have grown by 350% in the last decade, only 1.9% of commercial financing went toward water and sanitation infrastructure specifically.
In this program, Impact Entrepreneur’s Laurie Lane-Zucker welcomes WaterEquity President Paul O’Connell and Director of Impact & ESG Genevieve Edens for a fireside chat to discuss the intricate interplay between financing climate-resilient infrastructure projects and empowering communities with equitable water and sanitation solutions.
Paul O’Connell oversees and manages WaterEquity’s day-to-day activities. He brings over 25 years of experience in the research and practice of international finance and asset management to the organization.
Prior to WaterEquity, he spent more than 20 years as President and Managing Partner of FDO Partners, LLC, a quantitative asset manager providing currency and equity advisory services to sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and other institutional investors. His research interests include exchange rate behavior, international capital flows, and labor migration, and he has published extensively on these
topics. He has served as a member of the Editorial Board of the Emerging Markets Review, and the Review Board for the Research Foundation of the CFA Institute.
Paul has been engaged with various development causes for almost two decades. In 2006 he served as an advisor to the Global Fund. From 2009–2015, he served as board member and subsequently Chair of the Board of the GAVI Campaign, the US arm of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. From 2016–2022 he served on the Board of Water.org, the non-profit organization which founded WaterEquity. He has spoken at TED about how capital markets can fund and accelerate sustainable development in emerging and frontier markets.
Paul received a B.A. from Trinity College, Dublin in 1992, and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 1997. An Irish native, Paul received his B.A. from Trinity College, Dublin in 1992, and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 1997.
Genevieve Edens leads on impact and ESG at WaterEquity. In that capacity, she develops policies and tools and is involved at all stages of the investment process. She brings 15 years of experience in impact management and research to this role. Previously, Genevieve was Director of Research at the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, a global network that supports entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Prior to ANDE, Genevieve spent several years living in Tanzania where she worked for the coffee importer Sustainable Harvest, sourcing coffee from smallholder farmers for the specialty coffee market. Genevieve received her Bachelor of Arts with high honors in History from Wesleyan University and holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on analytics and responsible management from George Washington University.
Laurie Lane-Zucker is Founder and CEO of Impact Entrepreneur, PBC, an impact economy business that hosts the Impact Entrepreneur Network — a large, global network of “systems-minded” entrepreneurs, investors, and scholars of social and environmental innovation — and editor and publisher of Impact Entrepreneur, a digital magazine covering the emerging Impact Economy. For over 30 years, Laurie has been a “pioneer” (Forbes) and recognized leader in sustainability, social enterprise, and impact investing. Laurie was the founding Executive Director of the international environmental organization, Orion Society, which publishes the celebrated Orion Magazine, as well as the founder of a global sustainability think-tank, the Triad Institute, and Hotfrog, a Founding B Corporation, GIIRS Pioneer Company, and the first company ever to complete an equity transaction on an impact investment exchange. Laurie is the bestselling and multiple award-winning publisher and editor of books and magazines on sustainability and social impact — having worked with such acclaimed authors as Wendell Berry, Barry Lopez, Terry Tempest Williams, and David James Duncan — and the author of numerous articles on entrepreneurship and impact investing. Laurie is contributing author of the recently published academic textbook from World Scientific, Sustainability: Business and Investment Implications (2023).