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State of Watershed Payments 2012 Launch Event

The World Bank, Washington, DC, USA

On January 17, Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace released Charting New Waters: State of Watershed Payments 2012. The report is available here.
On January 24, a live launch event, co-hosted by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility, was held in Washington DC.
A recording of the webcast of the event can be found here and the presentation can be viewed here:

Charting New Waters: State of Watershed Payments 2012 Genevieve Bennett, Ecosystem Marketplace

The event:

Gustavo Fonseca, Head, Natural Resources, Global Environment Facility and Peter Dewees, Forests Adviser for the World Bank and Manager of the Program on Forests, offered introductory remarks.

Michael Jenkins, President and CEO, Forest Trends, moderated the session.

The event was opened by Dr. Jörg Frieden, Executive Director for Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Serbia-Montenegro, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan of the World Bank speaking on behalf of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), a vital supporter of Forest Trends’ Water Initiative and the State of Watershed Payments report. Remarking on the centrality of water to both Swiss society and their activity in the international development space.

Genevieve Bennett, the report’s lead author, presented key findings of the report, including:
•    Annual global investments in watershed services reached nearly $8.2 billion in 2011, nearly double the 2008 levels, and China is leading the world with the lion’s share of this transaction value channeled through government eco-compensation programs.
•    In addition to growth in dollar value, recent years have seen significant growth in the number of programs and the diversity of approaches to investments in watershed services, with new and innovative models including incentives taking the form of health insurance for upstream land users in China and mussel beds in Sweden doing the job of filtering nitrate pollution that would have traditionally been left to “gray” infrastructure.
•    Investment in watershed services can often produce multiple environmental and social “co-benefits” that cannot be derived from built infrastructure, and many programs are starting to report that they have attracted payers by “bundling” multiple services into each transaction. However, reliable monitoring of these co-benefits remains largely elusive.

Lucía Ruiz, head of the cabinet of advisors of MINAM, Peru’s Ministry of Environment, complemented the report findings with a practical perspective of how one government is working at the national level to address pressing water issues through a suite of policy- and project-based solutions that capitalize on the opportunities presented by investments in watershed services. In collaboration with Forest Trends and with the support of SDC, the Peruvian Ministry of Environment established a Watershed Services Incubator in 2012 to work to scale up these solutions throughout the country.

Jaime Cavelier, Senior Biodiversity Specialist of the Global Environment Facility, discussed the GEF’s activity to date in investments in watershed services.

Steve Petron, Vice President of Natural Resources at CH2M Hill,
underscored the importance of exploring “natural infrastructure” solutions as complements, or even substitutes, to engineering solutions. Mr. Petron explained that CH2MHill has already begun to have conversations on this topic with clients, and have developed designs for natural solutions.