Climate change is exacerbating the global water crisis. Corporations must be part of the solution

Climate change is exacerbating the global water crisis. Corporations must be part of the solution

There are 771 million reasons for corporations to get more involved in helping to solve the global water crisis. We’ve seen first hand the impact a corporate partner can have in scaling proven solutions that work and change the future for people living in poverty–and the world can’t wait.

Along with the 771 million people still living without access to safe water, we have 1.7 billion who do not have a toilet. And things aren’t getting better–they’re getting worse due to the catastrophic effects of climate change. By 2025, half of the world’s population is projected to live in areas where obtaining safe water is difficult if not impossible, with people living in poverty feeling it first and worst.

Take the story of Leneriza as an example. She was paying $60 a month for unreliable, unsafe water from a private vendor. With support from a microloan, she was able to pay the upfront cost to join the utility which gave her sustained access to regulated water. Her payments dropped to just $10 a month: $5 to repay her loan, and a $5 water bill. That’s it. Right away, she had both safe water and $50 more in her pocket each month to spend on her family.

There are millions of people in situations like Leneriza’s. People with the capacity to solve their water and sanitation access issues who are constrained by the upfront costs. Organizations such as are working to solve this by providing a solution for millions of people who are stuck using short-term, stop-gap solutions like buying contaminated water from trucks or paying a fee every time they use a toilet, but they needed partners to help scale these solutions.

Reclaiming wasted hours

Many people who lack access to water and sanitation know exactly how to solve their problems, but they lack the necessary funds. One solution that works is to help provide financing for individual households’ water needs–whether that’s joining a local utility by connecting to an existing water line, installing a rainwater harvesting tank and pump, or installing a household toilet.

We’ve been inspired by the results and success stories that we see on the ground. Chenamma, like too many other women in India, spent hours each day collecting water from ponds. Using a cloth, she would attempt to filter the water she collected to make it safe for her family to drink–but it didn’t stop them from suffering from sore throats, headaches, and water-borne illnesses.

With a microfinance loan, Chenamma connected her home to the municipal water line and purchased a storage tank with a purifier and a solar water heater. Now Chenamma and her family have lasting, affordable access to safe water at home. This improved access to water has also boosted their income, as Chenamma is now able to grow and sell fruit from home.

In order to create millions of success stories like Chenamma’s, we need the tools to further scale this work around the world–this is where corporate support is needed most.

How corporate solutions can make an impact

Companies are often best positioned to develop new technologies or scale innovations that can be used to accelerate the deployment of safe water solutions globally.

Take Amazon as an example. The company has made addressing the water crisis a priority. Outside of its own water commitments, including a recent announcement that Amazon Web Services (AWS) will return more water to communities than they consume by 2030, Amazon also recognized that it could play a role in bringing water access solutions to scale.

That’s why in 2020 and 2021, Amazon supported to help provide more than 250,000 people in communities in India and Indonesia with water connections or toilets at home. In 2022, Amazon made a further commitment that helped launch the water and climate strategy, an ambitious initiative that aims to reach 100 million people with water and sanitation solutions.

The two organizations are collaborating to build a learning management system (LMS) that will offer an online pathway for faster expansion of’s programs. expects an increase in microloans disbursed, with the potential to reduce the cost per person reached by an estimated 10% or more, resulting in the ability to bring water and sanitation services to an estimated 5 million more people over the next 10 years.

Think about that. A single technology solution will change the lives of millions. Imagine the possibilities as more companies step up and bring their own innovations to help remove remaining barriers to water access.

Amazon is not alone in working to tackle this challenge. Industry partnerships such as The Water Resilience Coalition (WRC) are working to put mounting water stress and its connection to climate change at the top of the global corporate agenda. WRC members work to preserve the world’s freshwater resources through collective action in water-stressed basins and through ambitious, quantifiable goals. The WRC is an initiative of the CEO Water Mandate between the UN Global Compact and the Pacific Institute.

Companies have options on how to engage in solving our global water problems, but the key is that they act–and fast.

Climate change and water are inextricably linked, and the changes we are seeing are having crippling effects on the world’s water resources. The impact is felt by households at the base of the economic pyramid who don’t have enough cash on hand to secure safe access to the water they need to live.

Today, on World Water Day, we’re putting out a call for collaboration. We must create more corporate partnerships to scale proven water access solutions. 771 million lives are counting on it.

Kara Hurst is VP of worldwide sustainability at Amazon. Gary White is the CEO and co-founder of & WaterEquity. Matt Damon is an actor and co-founder of & WaterEquity.

The opinions expressed in commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.

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Abortion rights advocates score narrow win in Oklahoma

Abortion rights advocates score narrow win in Oklahoma

A divided Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a portion of the state’s near total ban on abortion, ruling women have a right to abortion when pregnancy risks their health, not just in a medical emergency.

It was a narrow win for abortion rights advocates since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the landmark Roe v. Wade last year. Since then, conservative states including Oklahoma have enforced restrictions on abortion.

Oklahoma’s top court ruled that a woman has the right under the state Constitution to receive an abortion to preserve her life if her doctor determines that continuing the pregnancy would endanger it due to a condition she has or is likely to develop during the pregnancy. Previously, the right to an abortion could only take place in the case of medical emergency.

“Requiring one to wait until there is a medical emergency would further endanger the life of the pregnant woman and does not serve a compelling state interest,” the ruling states.

In the 5-4 ruling, the court said the state law uses both the words “preserve” and “save” the mother’s life as an exception to the abortion ban.

“The language ‘except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency’ is much different from ‘preserve her life,’” according to the ruling.

“Absolute certainty,” by the physician that the mother’s life could be endangered, “is not required, however, mere possibility or speculation is insufficient” to determine that an abortion is needed to preserve the woman’s life, according to the ruling.

The court, however, declined to rule on whether the state Constitution grants the right to an abortion for other reasons.

The court ruled in the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic and others challenging the state laws passed after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a nationwide right to abortion for nearly half a century.

Since then, a patchwork of laws has meant some patients have had to travel to other states to get abortions when it was outlawed where they lived.

“This ruling leaves out too many Oklahomans. Oklahomans shouldn’t have to travel across state lines just to reach an abortion clinic, and it is heartbreaking that many will not be able to do so,” said Dr. Alan Braid, an abortion provider and plaintiff in the case said in a statement.

The ruling in Oklahoma is unlikely to mean abortion becomes widely available.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month over Texas’ abortion ban, five women said they were denied abortions even when pregnancy endangered their lives. The suit claims the Texas law is creating confusion among doctors, who are turning away some pregnant women experiencing health complications because they fear repercussions.

Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Great Plains called the ruling a small step toward restoring the right to abortion.

“The Oklahoma Supreme Court recognized one fundamental truth: patients must be permitted to access critical care to save their lives,” she said. “But the right recognized today is so limited that most people who need abortion will not be able to access it.”

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UK inflation rate breaks 3-month stretch of declines with surprise rise to 10.4%

UK inflation rate breaks 3-month stretch of declines with surprise rise to 10.4%

U.K. inflation data paints a picture of the British economy.

Bloomberg / Contributor / Getty Images

U.K. inflation unexpectedly jumped in February, as food and energy bills continued to rise, placing further pressure on households.

The consumer price index (CPI) increased by an annual 10.4%, above the 9.9% consensus forecast among economists in a Refinitiv poll and up from 10.1% in January. On a monthly basis, CPI inflation was 1.1%, exceeding a forecast of 0.6%.

“The largest upward contributions to the monthly change in both the CPIH and CPI rates came from restaurants and cafes, food, and clothing, partially offset by downward contributions from recreational and cultural goods and services (particularly recording media), and motor fuels,” the U.K. Office for National Statistics said.

The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) rose by 9.2% in the 12 months to February 2023, up from 8.8% in January.

The surprise increase in February marked a break from three consecutive months of slowing price increases since the 41-year high of 11.1% reached in October.

British households continue to contend with high food and energy bills, while workers across a range of sectors have launched mass strike action in recent months amid disputes over pay and conditions.

Sterling rose by 0.4% against the dollar early on Wednesday.

Bank of England ‘on a knife edge’

The print will pose a further headache for the Bank of England, which has been hiking interest rates aggressively in a bid to rein in inflation and will announce its latest monetary policy decision on Thursday.

Richard Carter, head of fixed interest research at Quilter Cheviot, said that the downward path for inflation will not be smooth, and suggested the Bank of England may be forced to continue increasing the bank rate beyond its current level of 4%.

“The rhetoric from the BoE will continue to be that inflation is the primary concern, however, events in the banking sector have somewhat taken over and the Monetary Policy Committee has been seeing significant divisions on the best way forward,” he said.

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Last week, the independent Office for Budget Responsibility projected that U.K. inflation would plummet to 2.9% by the end of 2023 — a forecast Carter said was “increasingly ambitious” in light of the Wednesday print.

“How much the banking crisis will have changed this prediction remains to be seen, but it does feel a very punchy estimate,” he said.

Jake Finney, economist at PwC, said the reading was the first setback in the Bank of England’s mission since inflation began falling in November, and highlighted that inflationary pressures are starting to diverge.

“Food price inflation continues to reach new heights and restaurants and cafes prices increased further, while on the other hand, transport price inflation continued its downward trajectory as petrol and diesel prices fell back further,” he said.

Watch CNBC's full interview with Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey

Despite the bump in the road, PwC still sees inflation falling throughout most of 2023 to finish much closer to the Bank’s 2% target. Finney nevertheless noted that “the living standards squeeze is not over yet.”

The OBR expects real household disposable income per person, a measure of living standards, to fall by a cumulative 5.7% in 2022/23 and 2023/24.

“The Bank of England’s decision on Thursday remains on a knife-edge. The latest inflation data provides a setback but the Bank of England have made clear they will not be swayed by month-to-month changes in data points,” Finney said.

“We are expecting to see one final 25bp hike from the Bank of England. However, further volatility in the financial markets could turn sentiment towards a no change decision.”

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