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Interview with Professor Mariana Mazzucato, within the framework of the 2023 Regional Water Dialogues organized by ECLAC

1 February 2023|Briefing note

The renowned Professor of Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London, Dr Mariana Mazzucato, was interviewed by ECLAC, within the framework of the regional preparatory process for the 2023 UN Water Conference.

On January 12th, 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 via zoom regarding her recent work on the new economy of water and water as a common good, highlighting the relevance of innovation to address water challenges.

Professor Mazzucato commenced her 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 main recommendations was to design public-private relations, thinking beyond their creation, directing them towards the generation of investments, and ensuring integrated justice, equity, inclusion and co-creation as a central focal point. She emphasized that in addition to a systematic analysis, it is necessary to rethink the economy and consider a market creation and configuration approach to achieve the objectives to be pursued, resulting in a common good practice for water which 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 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 allows different sectors to work together towards a common goal.

Additionally, the professor spoke about strategies to mobilise financial resources to close regional potable water and sanitation gaps. 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 such as procurement policies, grants and loans to catalyze new forms of financing. That is, generating dynamic conditions to attract innovation and quality investment.

Thereafter, she pointed out that the central idea of promoting coordination within and between the institutions and structure of water governance and addressing water as a common good, is to think about the how? Specifically i) How do we 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 about the key components that should be pursued by the Regional Water Action Agenda, which is the main result of the 2023 Regional Water Dialogues, 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 approach", in which she mentions the regional challenge- and mission-oriented approach for industrial and development strategy to encourage investment in innovation in all sectors and also to strengthen the civil service itself.

A clip of the interview was presented during the opening ceremony of the Regional Water Dialogues, on February 1st, 2023. And the complete recording is available at the following link.