Forest Trends’ Water Initiative designs, implements, and brings to scale effective investments in ecosystems that support clean, safe water for people and nature.

From Sao Paulo to San Francisco, people around the world are facing a severe water crisis. Traditional (“gray”) infrastructure solutions alone will not suffice to meet this challenge – they tend to be costly, inflexible, and vulnerable to climate change and other shocks, and can also contribute to environmental degradation. A fundamentally new approach is needed that combines “gray” solutions with “green” systems such as forests, grasslands, and wetlands, which protect our access to clean water.

Green+gray approaches can reduce costs of regulating and filtering water, require less energy while reducing GHG emissions, manage a range of risks to water systems, increase resilience to climate change, and provide a multitude of environmental and social co-benefits.

To get green infrastructure strategies to scale, Forest Trends’ Water Initiative works with partners to:

  • Scale up Natural Infrastructure for Water Security
    Natural Infrastructure for Water Security in PeruNatural infrastructure is poised for scale in Peru as Peruvian leaders have increasingly recognized its critical role. New national policy advances have dedicated a portion of water user fees to address water security and climate risks. An estimated US$30 million in water tariffs have already been allocated to payments for ecosystem services projects. An additional US$86 million allocated for climate change adaptation and disaster risk management could also help fund natural infrastructure investments. To consolidate these important policy developments, it is essential that the committed funds result in demonstrated improvements in community, city, and local business resilience to water and climate risk. The Natural Infrastructure for Water Security Project will demonstrate how well-managed natural infrastructure projects in Peru deliver water security benefits and are sustainable, cost-effective, and scalable.
  • Build the Evidence Case for Green Infrastructure
    From Amazonian forests to pre-Incan infiltration canals to water-rich grasslands, green infrastructure delivers a range of benefits which need to be better quantified and communicated. Forest Trends is working with a diverse group of experts to build and communicate a robust evidence base for the hydrological and economic benefits of green infrastructure. To do so, we are championing a performance-based approach that applies cutting-edge design principles and innovative science such as remote-sensing technology and regional water monitoring network to measure the benefits of green infrastructure.
  • Strengthen Capacity of Leaders and Key Institutions
    Building capacity in designing, financing, and implementing green infrastructure will address a major hurdle in scaling up green infrastructure – the number of organizations and experts within the water sector with the skills needed to implement projects.
    Key skills and experience are currently concentrated in several institutions and organizations, and Forest Trends is working with partners, such as the Green Infrastructure Working Group of the Association of Latin American Water Utility Regulators (ADERASA), to build regional capacity in the design and implementation of green infrastructure projects through the first-ever comprehensive green infrastructure course for the water sector.
  • Secure Next Generation Finance
    Combining the power of private finance with public investments, the new models for financing can unblock bottlenecks to scaling green infrastructure. With partners in engineering, water utilities, and finance we are developing and testing new public-private co-financing for water and building capacity for developing pipelines of investable projects.
  • Improve Decision Tools for Green Infrastructure
    To be effective, green infrastructure has to be brought to scale.
    Forest Trends is working with local leaders and top technical experts to develop a new generation of decision tools for incorporating green infrastructure as a key component of sustainable water management. Innovations in master planning, scenario development, and assessing green infrastructure’s multiple benefits will help bring these solutions to scale. For example, in Lima, Peru, which is allocating $135 million from its water tariff to invest in green infrastructure and climate change adaptation, a Green Infrastructure Master Plan will serve as a first model for integrating green and gray infrastructure planning and water resources governance processes that is client-driven, results-oriented, cross disciplinary, and communicates the value of green infrastructure in clear and actionable terms.

Learn more about how we are partnering with organizations and governments in many countries around the world (for example, Peru, China etc.) to demonstrate these benefits and develop innovative investment models that allow green infrastructure to play an effective role in addressing the global water crisis.