More and more companies are acknowledging that they depend on reliable supplies of clean water just as much as the rest of us do, and a few dozen have promised to make sure they’re replenishing the aquifers and waterways that sustain them. Unfortunately, only a handful have taken meaningful steps towards doing so. Here’s a look at some of the winners, and what we can learn from them.
When the myriad players in a single watershed start jockeying for water rights, nature is often left out resulting in degraded ecosystems and species decline. But The Nature Conservancy says innovative impact investing in water markets can shift water back to the environment while still delivering benefits to farms and people.
Nature and Culture International is establishing Ecuador's first water school, an institution created to train municipal water workers in the skills required to join and administer a water fund. The water fund model continues to experience success in managing Latin America's stressed water resources and the school is meant to help scale up its use.
Peru has long been among the more innovative countries in dealing with the consequences of climate change, and last week policymakers there approved critical tools that can open the door for public and private investment in forests, water and biodiversity conservation.
Water utilities and NGOs around the world are using market-based mechanisms to clean regional waterbodies and restore surrounding watersheds, but critics say the programs are unproven. Proponents counter: yes, they are, and the data exists to prove it!
Environmentalists have long said that humans must conserve the planet’s living ecosystems if they are to win the war on climate change, and the Paris Climate Agreement made that explicit. As the agreement takes hold, ecosystem conservation is emerging as a key tool for both slowing climate-change and adapting to its consequences – not to mention supporting sustainable development.
The Green Climate Fund gave nature-based solutions a potential boost when it listed IUCN, a big celebrator of leveraging nature to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as a partner organization with authority to implement climate projects. As IUCN places an emphasis on adapting to climate impacts, the announcement has implications for utilizing these natural solutions for adaptation purposes.
March was a big month for water stewardship as consumer-facing companies made commitments to watershed health and natural infrastructure. Meanwhile, the Ecosystem Marketplace water team is collecting data for its State of Watershed Investments 2016 report, due out this fall, and encouraging green infrastructure and watershed protection projects to complete the water survey by May 13.
One way or another, water is wrapped up in essentially every job on the planet, which is why for this year's World Water Day, the United Nations decided to focus on the connection between sustainable and clean water supplies and productive employment, finding payments for ecosystem services programs and investments in conservation can help.
The World Economic Forum may have once again ranked water as one of the top threats facing society but practitioners and thought leaders don't appear discouraged. Instead they're focusing on potential and innovative solutions - developing water quality trading markets in waterways struggling under pollution and engaging in partnerships with unlikely stakeholders, like insurance companies.
The Ohio River Basin Trading Project is the largest water-quality-trading program in the United States, but it’s still dependent on the generosity of donors for survival. This year, it aims to build its base of paying customers with a multi-pronged strategy that includes videos and impact investors.
Climate change has disrupted the world’s water systems, and a handful of governments and companies have responded with funding for nature-based solutions that support healthy watersheds and good water management. We’ll need a lot more than a handful to get the job done, but 2015 offered some promising potential.
Watershed Connect is an information platform to help scale up practice and policy that maximizes the economic and ecological benefits of healthy watersheds - from ridges to reefs.