As drought, flooding and pollution made headlines year-round in 2016, some experts and organization pushed for a return to the basics, solutions that mimicked nature or protected water at its source, while also developing innovative new finance models to fund the mounting costs water management requires.
As the global water crisis mounts, countries, cities and businesses funneled billions of dollars into market-based investments that conserve and restore forests, mangroves, wetlands and grasslands to secure reliable and clean water, says Ecosystem Marketplace's latest report tracking watershed investments, released today.
Watershed investment programs can reduce the costs of managing water while delivering community benefits but they're underused because mobilizing support is difficult and funding can be hard to come by. The World Resources Institute is attempting to ease the burden with a new one-stop resource that offers detailed guidance on what it takes to create a successful watershed investment program.
As degraded watersheds drag California into its sixth year of drought, a new law makes forests, farms, and fields eligible for infrastructure funding – and the state is hardly alone, according to new research by Ecosystem Marketplace, which shows a dramatic surge in payments for watershed services across the United States and around the world.
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.
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.