On January 12, 2023, in the context of the 2023 Regional Water Dialogues organized by ECLAC, Dr. Silvia Saravia Matus, economic affairs officer of the Natural Resources Division, interviewed Professor Mariana Mazzucato regarding his recent work on the new economy of water and water as a common good, rescuing the relevance of innovation to address water challenges.
Professor Mazzucato began the interview by providing recommendations to promote a sustainable and inclusive water transition in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, given her experience as Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water. One of her recommendations was to design public-private relations, thinking beyond their creation, but also directing them towards the generation of investments, and making sure that they integrate justice, equity, inclusion and co-creation as a central axis. He emphasized that in addition to a systematic analysis, it is necessary to rethink the economy and think about a market creation and configuration approach to achieve the objectives we pursue, this is how a common good approach to water would allow the benefits of collectively created value to be shared .
Subsequently, the prominent economist commented in depth on the role of the State in promoting and investing in innovative solutions to address the region’s water challenges. The main point that was highlighted was the intrinsic interrelationship of water with the other sectors of the economy, and the importance of achieving SDG 6 to comply with the 2030 Agenda. In this way, it encourages the establishment of clear goals or missions that allow different sectors work together towards a common goal.
Additionally, the Professor spoke about strategies to ensure the mobilization of financial resources to close drinking water and sanitation gaps in the region. In this regard, she explained that it is not only about the amount of public financing, but about how fiscal spaces are created, to take advantage of different tools available such as procurement policies, grants and loans to catalyze new forms of financing. That is, generating interesting and dynamic conditions to attract innovation and quality investment.
Then, he pointed out that the central point to promote coordination within the institutions and structure of water governance and address water as a common good, is to think about how? Specifically i) How do we actually think about shared goals that maximize public value and the common good? ii) How do we prioritize stakeholder value as part of that process? and iii) How do we co-invest in technologies, skills and infrastructure while paying attention to ownership issues?
Finally, Dr. Saravia Matus asked him about the key components that he considers should be pursued by the Regional Water Action Agenda, which is the main result of the 2023 Regional Water Dialogues, in order to achieve compliance with SDG 6 and promote a water transition in LAC. In this regard, Professor Mazzucato highlighted the results of her publication with ECLAC “Transformational change in Latin America and the Caribbean: a mission-oriented policy approach”, in which she mentions the challenge- and mission-oriented approach for industrial and innovation in the region to encourage investment in innovation in all sectors and really also to strengthen the civil service itself.
An excerpt from the interview is presented during the opening ceremony of the Regional Water Dialogues, on February 1, 2023. And the complete recording is available at the following link.