IWRA Webinar N° 57

Public Banks and Public Water in Europe,
Tuesday, 22 November, 2022 I 15: 00 CET

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Public banks have played an important role in financing public water and sanitation services in Europe for over a century, but these activities have been largely ignored in the academic literature. The special Water International issue released on 11 August 2022 aimed to bridge this gap by providing information on eight countries and regions in Europe, covering a wide range of public banks working with public water operators.

This webinar presented the research methods, findings, and policy implications of the eight case studies of public banks financing public water operators in Europe, presented in the Special Issue. Jim Nickum, IWRA’s Editor in Chief for Water International, moderated the discussion.

This IWRA Public Banks webinar had 202 registrants with attendees tuning in from several countries including Croatia, India, Malawi, Sweden, the United Kingdom and many more.

Thomas Marois, Reader at the SOAS University of London, and David McDonald, Professor at Queen’s University in Canada and Director of the Municipal Services Project, co-presented on the importance of Public Banks in the water sector. Together they explained the history of financing public water and the potential of utilising public banks to better finance the water sector. They iterated the clear need for continued academic research to be done on this important topic. Marois and McDonald presented their case studies from the eight world regions including: the Nordic Region, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Germany and the European Union. While the two panelists demonstrated the high potential for utilising public banks to help finance public water, they also acknowledged that the utilisation of public banks can not be solely seen as the ‘silver bullet’ to bridging the finance gap for the public water sector. The team plans to continue and extend its research on public banks in public water in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.

Milo Fiasconaro, Executive Director at Aqua Publica Europea, shared his perspective as a water operator. The Aqua Publica Europea is a network of publicly owned water and sanitation operators representing nearly 60 water utility companies in Europe. This network exists to share knowledge and best practices amongst the water and sanitation operators. In his presentation, Fiasconaro reiterated three important elements of public banks in the public water sector, one included the autonomy that is provided through public banks financing. He shared that the easy access of funds to water operators provides a ‘no strings attached’ transaction, allowing utility companies to continue the operations and maintenance of their water infrastructure assets with little to no barriers.


Presentations and Speakers

  Moderated by: James Nickum, Editor-in-Chief, Water International

  Presented by: Lindsey Blodgétt, Webinar Officer, IWRA

IWRA Webinars constitute an additional resource designed to help our members, academics, dedicated practitioners, and policy professionals further explore these and other timely themes engaging in fruitful discussions, also aligned with the international water agenda and in close collaboration with key partners.