I sometimes get the feeling that the United Nations’ SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are regarded in some quarters as a nice idea, or window dressing on global development inequities. But they’re actually more important than that because things like insufficient water supplies and lack of potable water are keeping economic growth down, and that’s bad for impact investors and traditional investors alike.

The World Bank estimates that poor water quality has held economic growth back by as much as one-third in some locations, a new article in Public Finance International says.

A new report from the World Bank directly ties the presence of low-oxygen water (caused by pollution from plastics, chemicals, sewage and bacteria) directly to a decrease in gross domestic product growth in downstream areas.

“Deteriorating water quality is stalling economic growth, worsening health conditions, reducing food production, and exacerbating poverty in many countries,” said World Bank President David Malpass. “Their governments must take urgent actions to help tackle water pollution so that countries can grow faster in equitable and environmentally sustainable ways.”

Yes, there’s a key role for governments to play, but there are also key roles for impact investors to play, funding research and applications of water-quality improvement technologies, infrastructure and more.