Peru faces a water crisis: it is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to impacts of climate change on water security. In 2017, successive states of emergencies – first drought and forest fires in Northern Peru and then floods and landslides along the Pacific coast as a result of ‘El Niño Costero’ – sharply demonstrated Peru’s vulnerability to hydrological and climatic extremes. In addition, rising temperatures have resulted in an unprecedented melting of Peru’s glaciers, creating a short-term boom for downstream agriculture but depleting long-term water storage.

We need to rethink water infrastructure in Peru. Storage reservoirs, engineered dams, and other man-made gray infrastructure projects are threatened by ecosystem degradation and a changing climate. To solve the 21st century water crisis, we need to harness and support nature’s ability to provide clean water – managing forests and wetlands sustainably, improving farming practices, and maintaining ancestral water management practices that work with nature. Natural infrastructure can enhance the performance and lifespan of engineered infrastructure, and provide multiple lines of defense against natural disasters and other climate risks.

Natural 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 NIWS Project will demonstrate how well-managed natural infrastructure projects in Peru deliver water security benefits and are sustainable, cost-effective, and scalable. The Project addresses specific challenges to implementing natural infrastructure in Peru:

  • A lack of a robust project pipeline;
  • A lack of capacity and guidance for designing sustainable, gender-inclusive projects; and
  • A lack of coordination across sectors;
  • Insufficient financial resources in some regions.

The NIWS project will address these challenges by:

  • Ensuring policy synergy across ministries and departments by building a common vision for natural infrastructure in Peru and incorporating this into key policies like Peru’s National Gender and Climate Change Action Plan.
  • Generating water and socioeconomic information including differentiated impacts on men and women, required for project decision-making and support.
  • Developing guidelines and tools to design plans, projects, and actions guaranteeing water, social, and economic benefits.
  • Teaching the design, evaluation, monitoring, and management of natural infrastructure projects of natural infrastructure projects to water utilities, watershed councils, regional governments, and local communities.
  • Designing, testing, and implementing new financial models to mobilize funds.
  • Building integrated natural-gray project portfolios in priority watersheds to increase investment.
  • Documenting and disseminating the benefits of natural infrastructure through flagship State of Natural Infrastructure in Peru publications, public and private financial analyses, and more.


Forest Trends and others have been working to develop natural infrastructure in Peru for over a decade. Our biggest projects include the Peru Incubator and the Initiative for the Conservation of the Andean Amazon Project.

Peru Incubator

In 2012, Forest Trends partnered with MINAM to establish the Peru Incubator for Ecosystem Services Projects which coordinated efforts at the national, regional, and local levels to systematically address the barriers to effective green infrastructure investments in Peru.

The Incubator’s three areas of work were:

  • Policy Impact: Facilitating the creation of guidelines, tools, guides, conferences, and communications for the restoration, conservation, and sustainable use of ecosystems and ecosystem services.
  • Technical Advice: Developing and sharing knowledge on the restoration, conservation, and sustainable use of ecosystems and ecosystem services at the national policy level as well as the project level.
  • Project Support: Supporting Investments in Watershed Services (IWS) projects at different stages of development.
Initiative for the Conservation of the Andean Amazon Project
SPDA collaborated with MINAM and MINAGRI to implement a national forest monitoring system that tracks deforestation and changes in forest cover and the associated carbon emissions. As part of this work, SPDA supported the drafting and consultation process for the:

  • Law of Retribution Mechanisms for Ecosystem Services (MRSE);
  • Peruvian biodiversity offset policy (working with Forest Trends to support the enactment of Peru’s new No Net Loss policy); and
  • Forestry and Wildlife Law, as well as facilitated the implementation of 34 natural resource management policies, laws, agreements, and regulations.


Natural Infrastructure for Water Security Project Brochure [English] [Spanish]

Alliances for Green Infrastructure: State of Watershed Investment 2016
This report takes a global look at investment in green infrastructure. It found that governments, water utilities, companies, and communities spent nearly $25 billion on payments for green infrastructure for water through over 400 programs in 62 countries in 2015.

Tools for Designing and Implementing Green Infrastructure for the Latin American Water Sector
Forest Trends and EcoDecisión developed the first-ever comprehensive green infrastructure online course for the water sector in collaboration with the Association of Latin American Water Utility Regulators (ADERASA).

Katoomba Marketplace: Opportunities for Investment in Green Infrastructure (in Spanish)
To address the disconnect across water utility operators, water users, and government agencies, Forest Trends and Peru’s national water utility regulator, SUNASS, with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), hosted the Katoomba Marketplace event to bring together these diverse stakeholders.

Green Infrastructure in the Drinking Water Sector in Latin America and the Caribbean: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities
The study was designed to document the state of initiatives and investment in green infrastructure by water regulators, drinking water operators, and project developers in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Assessing Green Interventions for the Water Supply of Lima, Peru: Cost-Effectiveness, Potential Impact, and Priority Research Areas
This report assessed the cost-effectiveness and potential scale of green infrastructure for Lima’s water supply, representing one of the first quantitative estimates of the cost and potential of green infrastructure interventions.

Jequetepeque, Rimac, and Alto Mayo watershed investment case studies
These case studies sought to document and evaluate efforts to protect and improve the availability and quality of water resources in three watersheds in Peru through investments in watershed services.

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.