Leah Bremer et al.
Water is an essential and irreplaceable resource. Global and local water systems are dependent on the healthy functioning of natural infrastructure – forests, wetlands, rivers, estuaries and the ocean. Yet this natural infrastructure faces tremendous stress – population growth, unplanned development, climate change, and the loss of ecosystems and ecosystem services all threaten the natural systems that have provided clean, safe water to society for millennia.
Green infrastructure for water includes the protection and restoration of natural watershed ecosystems as well as additional interventions that enhance the benefits nature provide. Watershed investments encompass a range of types of financial mechanisms that support green infrastructure - including water funds, payments for watershed services, reciprocal agreements for water, and water quality trading programs.
Growth in watershed investment in recent years—8% in global investment between 2011 and 2013, according to our latest State of Watershed Investment report—has been steady, but still insufficient. A key barrier to scale is a lack of clear models, lessons, and best practices that practitioners can use to streamline project development and communicate the business case to investors and policy makers – the length of time to develop projects and lack of clearly articulated business cases for natural infrastructure remain a barrier to scale.
Forest Trends Water Initiative works with partners in government, business, and civil society to scale up investments in natural and green infrastructure for water – as more cost effective solutions to the water crisis that also support local livelihoods and provide numerous co-benefits, such as mitigation and adaptation to climate change, enhancing food security and protecting biodiversity.
We see that scaling watershed investments will require results across three kinds of work:
Our Water Initiative reflects these needs, working across demonstration projects, analyses and tools, and networking and dialogues to scale up watershed investments around the globe.