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UNECE and Portugal to cooperate on people-first Public-Private Partnerships in the water and sanitation sector

UNECE and Portugal to cooperate on people-first Public-Private Partnerships in the water and sanitation sector

770 million people around the world lack access to clean water, while 2.5 billion people do not have adequate sanitation services. These staggering statistics by the World Bank highlight the need for increased infrastructure investment in water and sanitation services if the ambitious targets in SDG 6 - to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all - are to be met by 2030.


Most people who are in desperate need to access water and sanitation services reside in low and middle-income countries, where financing solutions to bridge the enormous infrastructure gap, estimated at $1 trillion per year, are urgently needed. It is widely recognised that involving private sector finance and expertise into the delivery of public service and the running of infrastructure is an efficient way to bridge the infrastructure gap. However, governments in low and middle-income countries lack the capabilities to design, procure and manage PPP projects, which is stopping them from delivering projects that are beneficial to the community and that lower the costs and increase the efficiency of services.


To address these challenges, UNECE and Portugal have agreed to establish an International Centre of Excellence on PPPs in water and sanitation. The Centre, affiliated to the UNECE International PPP Centre of Excellence in Geneva, will be hosted by the National Laboratory of Civil Engineering (LNEC) in Lisbon with the support of the Ministry of Environment of Portugal.

The Centre will:
  • Identify international PPP best practices in the water and sanitation sector;
  • Collect PPP water and sanitation case studies from around the world;
  • Support the UNECE work on developing international PPP standards; and
  • Promote the implementation of the UNECE Protocol on Water and Health.

UNECE Executive Secretary, Mr. Christian Friis Bach, and the Secretary of State for the Environment in Portugal, Mr. Carlos Martins, launched this project in Lisbon on 17 May 2017 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Bach said:

“This initiative provides an excellent opportunity to further exploit the synergies between the UNECE work on people-first Public-Private Partnerships and the UNECE/-WHO/Europe Protocol on Water and Health. The Centre in Lisbon is the perfect vehicle to promote and disseminate this useful work to the international community.”

Speaking on behalf of the Portuguese Government, Mr. Martins declared that this initiative:

“Provides the right mechanism to analyze and establish the necessary international cooperation in the water and sanitation sector.” He added that, “the signing of this agreement will support the development of the UNECE People-First PPP Programme and its international Project Teams developing PPP standards in the water and sanitation sector. Through the identification of international best practices, it will assist low and middle-income countries to utilise People-First PPPs for water supply and sanitation services.”

For more information, please contact Mr. Tony Bonnici ([email protected])

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 12 34

Email: [email protected]

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