'The demand of water is quite high owing to the high population density'
Speakers at a roundtable have called for united efforts, greater involvement and investment from private sector to ensure supply of safe drinking water to all by the year 2021.
‘Pureit’ brand of Unilever Bangladesh and ‘Innovation Hub’ of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) jointly hosted the roundtable titled ‘SDG 6 Multisectoral Dialogue on Safe Water’ at Westin Hotel in Dhaka on Thursday evening.
The roundtable was organized to brainstorm the private sector’s challenge in ensuring the supply of safe drinking water for all against the backdrop of urbanization and climate change.
Nojibur Rahman, principal secretary to the Prime Minister, was the chief guest, while Managing Director and CEO, WASA, Engineer Taqsem A. Khan was the special guest.
"The partnership between the government and private sectors is very crucial to entitle everyone to safe water. They need to work in unison and a need for investment from the private sector. It is only then, it would be possible to reach the goal to ensure safe water for all by the year 2021," Nojibur Rahman said.
He suggested considering the country's climate and geography before making any plans.
Engineer Taqsem A Khan said, "The demand of water is quite high owing to the high population density. It is a big challenge to ensure safe water for even 17 million people living in Dhaka. We are trying to face this challenge under the leadership of the prime minister. But, it is not possible for the government alone to manage safe water for such a huge population. The private sector also has to come forward. Dhaka WASA has already started some projects in partnership with the private sector."
He urged the private sector to come forward with greater involvement in the process.
The roundtable is a step towards realizing the organization’s overarching goal to lead sustainable practices and investments in ensuring safe water.
Kedar Lele, CEO of Unilever Bangladesh, said: “When we as a business want to grow, we must make sure that growth has to be responsible. Hence the 4 ‘R’s - ‘Reduce’, ‘Recycle’, ‘Reuse’ and ‘Recharge’ have to be taken into account. Unilever’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) agenda is coming to Bangladesh in a great way. Our brand ‘Pureit’ as well as the organization has been at the forefront of the WASH agenda.”
“I ask all organizations, entrepreneurs, and finance institutions in this room that if you think the brands of Unilever can work with you to expand your reach and develop business models, you are most welcome. We will create time, energy and investment into it to make it a reality. Secondly, I would suggest adding one more P to the PPP. It’s not simply profit-driven partnership, but a purpose-driven partnership,” he said.
The roundtable discussed the existing projects of the government, non-government organizations, and INGOs regarding ensuring safe water in Bangladesh and the projects that are needed to be undertaken in the days to come.
Sudipto Mukherjee, UNDP’s country director said, "Safe Water is a challenge that requires large capital expenditure and time. At the same time, it represents an untapped market potential for private sector to serve millions of people and multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). UNDP is supporting private sector endeavors by offering technical advice to measure impact, and plan inclusive businesses and the platform to connect stakeholders."
All stakeholders including financial institutions, public and private sectors, and NGOs had their participation and voices in the roundtable. The recommendations that came from the event will pave the path for the next course of action in ensuring public-private partnership to entitle everyone to safe water.
Country Public Affairs & Communications Officer of Coca-cola Shamima Akhter, Associate Director of PwC Sandeep Kota, Senior Advisor of World Bank Javed Bin Karim and Tanzeen Ferdous Alam marketing director of Unilever Bangladesh Limited attended the roundtable along with other dignitaries.
In February this year, Unilever Bangladesh teamed up with the UNDP Bangladesh to help the country attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).