Reimagining Water Infrastructure 

At Forest Trends Water Initiative, we work to mainstream natural infrastructure and nature-based solutions for water and climate security.

We work to scale investments in natural infrastructure to safeguard water supplies, increase climate resilience and support thriving communities.

The world faces a growing crisis of climate-related water insecurity as warming temperatures, increasingly frequent and severe drought, more uncertain rainfall patterns, and extreme storm events disrupt peoples’ lives and livelihoods. We can no longer rely on past conditions as a guide to how water systems will respond under a future climate, as well as climate changes that are already here.

Nature-based solutions are cost-effective, flexible and inherently adaptable in ways that traditional ‘gray’ infrastructure is not. A secure water future will require infrastructure with ‘nature’s resilience’: the ability to persist, adapt and transform in ways that allow people and nature to continue to thrive in the face of disruption and change.

By embracing a reimagined infrastructure that prioritizes protection of vulnerable ecosystems, communities have a path to a more holistic management of water resources that can help ensure safe drinking water, mitigate water-related hazards, and maintain adequate supplies in an era of increasing variability and uncertainty.

Our Approach

We work on global water issues but have a strong a regional focus on Latin America and particularly in Peru, through our Natural Infrastructure for Water Security (NIWS) project [en Español]. We focus on three ‘pillars’ necessary for getting to the scale that is needed to impact water and climate security: 1) improving enabling conditions for natural infrastructure adoption; 2) better information and tools for decision-making; and 3) mobilizing greater investments for getting natural infrastructure projects in the ground.

Improve Enabling Conditions for Adoption

We work to identify and strengthen replicable and scalable enabling conditions through research and analysis on the current state of nature-based solutions (NBS) investments; capturing learnings from demonstration projects and Incubating programs; convening diverse, cross-sectoral stakeholders to share lessons and models; synthesizing knowledge and best practices from the global community of practice; and designing and delivering practical, client-driven capacity building trainings.

Strengthen Information and Tools for Decision-making

Better information and robust yet practical tools for assessing, planning, designing, implementing, and monitoring NBS are essential for enabling broader uptake by a diversity of practitioners. These include economic analyses for comparing cost-effectiveness of NBS compared to traditional gray infrastructure, frameworks for integrating natural infrastructure into asset management programs, rapid assessment tools for identifying and prioritizing opportunities for NBS, principles and guidance for best practice NBS, and methods for estimating the performance of NBS interventions.

Mobilize Investments for Projects

With local partners we design and implement project portfolios by mobilizing both public and private finance mechanisms and incentives. This includes lessons on a diversity of funding mechanisms from a portfolio of demonstration projects in six countries, and mobilizing funds for public investment projects in Peru.

Key Results

  • Created framework and guidance for including natural infrastructure in water utility asset management plans with water utilities, Water Research Foundation, and Corona Environmental
  • Coordinated and published the first reference volume on Nature-based Solutions and Water Security with a global coalition of experts.
  • Author State of Investments in Watershed Services Reports that provide the only synthesis of the status and trends in global investments.
  • Compiled lessons from demonstration projects in six countries – initial seeding of water funds (Beijing) and watershed Payment for Ecosystem Services programs (Ethiopia)
  • Supported policy reforms and implementation of NBS in Peru through Peru’s Incubator for Ecosystem Services, providing the foundation for the NIWS project to scale natural infrastructure investments
  • Developed, through the NIWS Project, the HIRO Rapid-Focus Tool for Natural Infrastructure Investments (HIRO stands for Herramienta de Identificación Rápida de Oportunidades).
  • A series of methods for quantifying the hydrological benefits of natural infrastructure, called CUBHIC, Cuantificación de Beneficios Hidricos de Intervenciones en Cuencas. The CUBHIC methods are simple, site-level methods for generating quantified estimates of benefits of the most common NI interventions, for example, evaluating dry season flow and reduced sedimentation.
  • Partnership between the NIWS project in Peru and the national program “Reconstruccion Con Cambios,” to help them to include Natural Infrastructure as part of their integral plans. This program was created to invest billions of soles in 19 of Peru’s coastal watersheds that are extremely vulnerable to floods and landslides, especially in the context of climatic extremes.
  • Offered first ever regional training course on natural infrastructure for water professionals in Latin America, held with the association of national water regulators, ADERASA.

Natural Infrastructure Webinar Series (en español)

REGÍSTRESE PARA NUESTROS PRÓXIMOS WEBINARS

[info will go here]

 

VER GRABACIONES DE WEBINARS ANTERIORES

 

Lecciones en la implementación de los MERESE


Miércoles 5 de septiembre a las 7:00 pm

En el año 2015, se aprobó la Ley sobre Mecanismos de Retribución por Servicios Ecosistémicos permitiendo la realización de acuerdos de conservación entre retribuyentes y contribuyentes en el Perú.  A su vez, la empresa de agua potable de Lima SEDAPAL recibe aprobación del regulador SUNASS de su tarifa con compensación ambiental, abriendo la posibilidad de invertir recursos en MERESE.  Al 2018, más de dos docenas de empresas prestadoras de servicio de agua potable cuentan con tarifa para proteger sus cuencas.

¿Que hemos aprendido en estos 3 años?

Te invitamos a escuchar a Luis Acosta, Coordinador Macroregional de SUNASS quien va a dar una breve reseña de los avances y desafíos del proceso en el país.

 


 

Técnicas ancestrales de manejo del agua y sus beneficios hidrícos

Miércoles 8 de agosto a las 7:00 pm

En la época prehispánica, Peru fue pionera en el manejo del agua.   Las comunidades campesinas utilizaban técnicas, tales como las “amunas” (proviene del quechua y significa retener) para recargar artificialmente los acuíferos.  Se entiende que la “captura” de agua iniciaba en la época lluviosa entre diciembre y abril y garantizaba el recurso para la época de siembra que coincidía con la época de estiaje. Esta cosecha de agua sigue vigente hasta la época actual pero está seriamente deteriorada.  Su restauración permite que las familias dispongan de agua para sus actividades.

En este webinar, comentaremos dos casos de amunas: San Pedro de Casta presentado por Aquafondo y Huamantanga presentado por Condesan, donde se han restaurado kilometros del canal y medir su efectividad.

Este espacio está abierto para plantear nuestras interrogantes respecto al tema e identificar estrategias concretas aplicables en los espacios locales.

Andrés Alencastre,

Ing. Pamela Aquino, Aquafondo

Javier Antiporta, de CONDESAN

 


 

Mujeres en la gestión del agua

Miércoles 18 de julio a las 7:00 pm

La conservación de los recursos hídricos es una tarea que involucra a
todos los miembros de las comunidades e instituciones. En este Webinar, discutiremos sobre el Rol de hombres y mujeres en la conservación de las cuencas y la provisión del agua, con el objetivo  de conocer cómo se incluyen estos aspectos en la formulación e implementación de las políticas y planes, y su relación con la gestión integrada de los  recursos hídricos.

Jessica Huertas del Ministerio del Ambiente – MINAM hará una presentación de cómo las políticas públicas y
arreglos institucionales han incorporado estos temas,  en particular en el Plan de Acción de Género y Cambio Climático, asimismo, Sonia Vidalón de la Superintendencia Nacional de Servicios de Saneamiento – SUNASS nos compartirá la experiencia concreta que se viene desarrollando desde la Sunass.

Este espacio está abierto para plantear nuestras interrogantes respecto al tema e identificar estrategias concretas aplicables en los espacios locales.

 


 

Support and Funding

The Natural Infrastructure for Water Security (NIWS) project is funded by USAID and the Government of Canada. It is implemented by Forest Trends with our consortium partners CONDESAN, the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA), EcoDecision, and Imperial College London.

This web page was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Government of Canada.


The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the Government of Canada

Natural Infrastructure for Water Security in Peru

Breaking barriers for Natural Infrastructure in Peru

Peruvians are no strangers to climate-related water insecurity. National states of emergency declared in recent years due to drought, fires, floods, and landslides have become increasingly frequent, costing billions of dollars in damages and lost earnings—and impacting millions of lives. During the last 50 years, the country has lost more than half of its glaciers, historically a key source of water.

Natural infrastructure, like forests and wetlands, increase resilience of both upstream communities and downstream water users to these risks. In the last 10 years, Peruvian policymakers across multiple sectors have recognized the opportunity to invest in nature as an asset for managing water risks and have implemented a series of policy reforms to enable a new approach for nature-based solutions for water in Peru.

The Natural Infrastructure for Water Security (NIWS) project, is working to scale-up efforts to protect and restore natural water infrastructure in Peru, while addressing gender gaps that are incompatible with a water- and climate-secure future.

By pushing Peru to move beyond concrete-and-steel water infrastructure projects and embrace an expansive new vision of 21st century water infrastructure that prioritizes protection of vulnerable natural ecosystems through partnerships with upstream, rural communities, NIWS is advocating a holistic approach to managing water risks in an era of increasing variability.

Forest Trends leads implementation of NIWS in consortium with our partners CONDESAN, the Peruvian Society of Environmental Law (SPDA), EcoDecisión, and researchers from Imperial College London.

Slated to run until 2023, the project has already helped generate and sustain momentum for the Government of Peru’s recent water policy advances to fully mainstream “natural infrastructure” and ensure that the committed funds result in demonstrated improvements to water and climate risk resilience. Building upon Peru’s role as the first Latin American country to officially incorporate gender into its climate action programming, NIWS has helped further elevate women’s leadership roles in the water sector by facilitating professional forums and networking events. [Keep Reading] [NIWS website in Spanish]

Our Approach

1) Improve the Enabling Environment for Natural Infrastructure Adoption

We are increasing political and public awareness on the importance of natural infrastructure for secure water supplies and resilience to increasing climate extremes. We work closely with planners and policymakers to incorporate natural water infrastructure into planning instruments and address policy bottlenecks to scale effective natural infrastructure investments.

2) Strengthen Information Management for Decision-Making on Natural Infrastructure

We work with universities, technical institutions, and decision-makers to generate the social, economic, ecological, and water resource information needed to decide where and when to invest in natural infrastructure and how to incorporate it into existing planning and management processes. We also strengthen monitoring efforts that accompany natural infrastructure interventions, to build a stronger evidence base on the impacts natural infrastructure can have on water management and local communities.

3) Design, Finance, and Implement Natural Infrastructure Projects

We develop portfolios of investments in natural water infrastructure from a range of public and private sources, including Peru’s national disaster reconstruction program, regional and local governments, water utilities, and private companies. In doing so, we aim to generate new experience and skills across the water sector and to advance the tools and mechanisms available to effectively and equitably invest in water natural infrastructure.

4) Address Gender Gaps in Water and Natural Infrastructure Management

We are serious about reducing gender gaps across all areas of our work. We partner with leading authorities in the water, environmental, and women’s empowerment sectors in Peru to institutionalize a gender approach in water management and natural infrastructure investments. We also work directly with women leaders in local organizations and public authorities to highlight and strengthen their skills as leaders in the sector.

Key Results

  • Journey Towards Water Security summarizes the key results to date for the NIWS project (as of September 2021)
  • Facilitated the approval and implementation of the first watershed investment by SEDAPAL, Lima’s water utility
  • Built a portfolio of over $286 million in NI investments in development: over 50 projects developed with 243 communities in 20 Peruvian watersheds.
  • Increased credibility and clarity for decision-makers regarding the water benefits of natural infrastructure interventions through scientific research, publication in prestigious peer reviewed journals, and accessibly sharing this with decision-makers.
  • Strengthened capacities of more than 5,000 professionals from national and subnational governments, water companies and civil society to design, monitor and manage natural infrastructure projects
  • Developed a suite of over 10 innovative tools to guide the identification, design, and management of effective, equitable, and sustainable interventions in natural infrastructure. Over 700 people from diverse public and private institutions report using our tools, especially HIRO and CUBHIC.
  • Strengthened institutions and leaders to address gender gaps in water management by supporting decision-makers to systematize and quantify information on gender gaps. A few highlights include, SUNASS approving the first Gender Equality Policy in the Peruvian water sector, over 100 women leaders being recognized and strengthened in water management, and organizing women to contribute to climate change action.
  • Developed and secured regulatory changes that accelerate investments in natural infrastructure and strengthen multi-sectoral water management, working closely with our partners MINAM, ANA, SUNASS, and water companies.
    Documented peat extraction for commercial purposes, which informed MINAM’s  approval of a new Supreme Decree for the protection of wetlands.

Key Resources

Key resources for practitioners in Spanish:

Support and Funding

The Natural Infrastructure for Water Security (NIWS) project is funded by USAID and the Government of Canada. It is implemented by Forest Trends with our consortium partners CONDESAN, the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA), EcoDecision, and experts from Imperial College London.

 

 

This web page was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Government of Canada.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the Government of Canada.

Water Initiative » Where We Work

Click through the countries below to learn about our activities, partnerships, and results in Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, China, Ghana, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia.

Peru

Peru Incubator
Project Partner: Peruvian Ministry of Environment (MINAM), Peruvian National Superintendent of Water and Santiation Services (SUNASS), Ecodecisión, Consorcio para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Ecorregión Andina (CONDESAN), Amazónicos por la Amazonía (AMPA), Aquafondo

Since its establishment in 2012, Forest Trends has partnered with the Ministry of Environment (MINAM) on the Incubator for Ecosystem Services Mechanisms, through our key regional partnership with EcoDecision and with the local technical support and coordination of CONDESAN. The Incubator is a platform that aims to enhance investments in nature by society through providing technical, financial, and economic expertise; building capacity; and contributing to the development of national policy.  Since it was established, the Incubator has supporting the development and implementation of a national ecosystem services law that facilitates public investment in ecosystem services projects; has worked closely with SUNASS, Peru’s water regulator, to develop technical and policy tools needed to implement a water sector reform that strongly encourages water utilities to invest in watersheds to ensure supply and mitigate risks; and has provided provided targeted support to priority sites including the Jequetepeque, Rimac, and Alto Mayo watersheds.

In coordination with the Incubator, we have deepened our engagement in the Alto Mayo watersheds, working with AMPA to suggest a potential design for the an integrated strategy and financing model for improving coffee production and conservation through multiple benefits framework in the Amazonian region of San Martin, Peru. This strategy builds on the integrated approach to development that was articulated in 2014, at the 20th Katoomba Meeting, Climate, Forests, Water and People: A Vision of Sustainable Development for Tropical America in Lima and San Martin, Peru, organized by Forest Trends and the Peruvian government.

We have also worked closely with Aquafondo, the water fund for Lima, Peru, on strategies for securing public and private funds, including as a pilot of the Water Benefit Credits. In 2014, we carried out a study of the cost-effectiveness and potential impact of green infrastructure interventions for the water supply of Lima.

Bolivia

Project Location: Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Partner: Fundación Natura Bolivia

The city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia and surrounding upland communities are facing a serious water crisis precipitated by growing populations and expansion of agriculture. In response to this crisis, Fundación Natura Bolivia has developed Acuerdos Recíprocos por Agua (ARAs) —or Reciprocal Water Agreements. Under the ARA model, municipal water committees enter into agreements with land owners living in the upper micro-watersheds of Santa Cruz to stop deforestation and contamination of water sources. Forest Trends and Fundacion Natura Bolivia are working to scale up this approach in Bolivia and around Latin America, including through the new ARAs School (“Escuela de ARA”) for green infrastructure practitioners.

  • Contact us to learn about opportunities to attend the Escuela de ARA

Mexico

Project Location: Marismas Nacionales, Mexic
Partner: Pronatura Noroeste, SuMAR, Nuiwari A.C.

Marismas Nacionales, the largest mangrove complex on the Pacific coast of Mexico, is disappearing at an alarming rate. Local organizations Pronatura Noroeste, SuMAR, and Nuiwari are leading work to design an equitable and sustainable response to the threats to the Marismas Nacionales. Local partners are increasing the local and scientific understanding of drivers and benefits of mangrove health, creating a common vision and theory of change for ensuring the health of Marismas Nacionales, and identifying new livelihood and water management financing opportunities with the government and private sector.

China

Project Location: Beijing, China
Partner: Beijing Forestry Society

Water is the single most critical resource bottleneck to China’s continued economic growth, and the city of Beijing faces a particularly acute crisis. Forest Trends is partnered with the Beijing Forestry Society to encourage a performance and monitoring based water management approach for the Miyun watershed, the principal source of drinking water for Beijing. The Beijing Municipality is investing heavily in this approach through Beijing Forestry Society in an effort to improve forest structure and water quality in watershed pilot sites. With Forest Trends, Beijing Forestry Society is improving the monitoring and evaluation of pilot interventions and develop financing and management mechanisms that are based on measured water impacts.

The Beijing eco-compensation program has already set an example for the potential scale of city leadership on watershed protection, which inspired the establishment of the Partnership for Mega-Cities and Watershed Protection by BFS, Forest Trends, and IUCN China in May 2013 at the 18th Katoomba Meeting held in Beijing. The Partnership facilitates sharing of lessons and best practices between major Chinese and international cities proactively working for water security through watershed management.

Ghana

Project Location: Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Area and Cape Coast, Ghana
Partner: Nature Conservation Research Centre

Ghana’s rapidly-growing urban centers face an acute water shortage due to growing populations and land use, including deforestation, extensive agriculture, and informal mining, that generates overwhelming amounts of heavy metals, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment in the waterways supplying Ghana’s major population centers. To address this problem, Forest Trends and The Nature Conservation Research Center have worked with Ghanaian officials to convene a national-level Technical Working Group to develop watershed investments to address these problems, using a methodical, consensus-driven model.

  • Read the Technical Working Group’s assessment of challenges to the Pra and Kakum watersheds in Ghana
  • Read the Technical Working Group’s vision for the Pra and Kakum watersheds in Ghana

Brazil

Project Location: Paraná, Brazil
Partner: Universidade Federal do Paraná

The Tibagi watershed in the state of Paraná is experiencing increased levels of phosphorous contamination from agricultural and industrial sources which is causing algal blooms in reservoirs throughout the watershed. The private sector is increasing investment in the region, with plans to build hydroelectric dams and paper plants in the pipeline. The time is ripe to develop a mechanism to curb phosphorous contamination and increased the quality of the river for all. Forest Trends and the Universidade Federal do Paraná are collaborating on efforts to identify private sector partners and develop the incentives and mechanisms to reduce contamination of the Tibagi river.

Costa Rica

Project Location: San Jose Metropolitan area, Costa Rica
Partner: FUNDECOR

Costa Rica has a world-renowned system for payment for ecosystem services that has protected thousands of hectares of important forests; however, they do not have a PES mechanism focused solely on hydrological services. With the metropolitan area of San Jose experiencing rapid population growth and development expanding farther into sensitive upland aquifer recharge areas, the region is facing a water crisis. Local partner FUNDECOR is taking the lead on uniting the private sector with government agencies and public utilities to address this issue by financing the protection of important aquifer recharge zones, through the establishment of a new water fund, Agua Tica. Forest Trends has supported exchanges with experts from Ecuador and elsewhere around the world on designing fund’s the institutional and financial arrangements.

Ethiopia

Project Location: Benishangul-Gumuz region, Ethiopia
Partner: Water and Land Resource Center Ethiopia

Forest Trends is collaborating with Ethiopia’s Water and Land Resource Center to strengthen local capacity to design and develop water management efforts and their financing around large-scale hydroelectric dam projects with the goal of extending their lifespan and reducing their environmental impact. As part of these efforts, WLRC is organizing high level exchanges between Ethiopia and countries like China to allow Ethiopian officials to see the hydrological and livelihood benefits of landscape restoration around mega-projects.