Mar 14, 2012

The Nature Conservancy, Partners Invest in Water Security for Nature and People in Latin America

The Latin American Water Funds Partnership presents document to assist in the creation of Water Funds to protect critical watersheds

As a fast growing region, Latin America needs water to secure a solid and sustainable development that provides a better quality of life for its people. Global warming, deforestation, pollution and other environmental and human pressures are major challenges for fresh water. With this common vision, at the World Water Forum, the Latin American Water Funds Partnership (LAWFP)—launched in June of 2011 by The Nature Conservancy FEMSA Foundation, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF)—presented a manual featuring a ground-breaking tool aimed at protecting freshwater while fostering the expansion of green development opportunities for millions of people in Latin American cities.

A water fund is an innovative way to help pay for nature’s services and reinvest that money in conservation. Healthy watersheds help minimize water treatment costs, and the funds attract voluntary contributions from large water users downstream, like water utilities, hydroelectric companies or industries. Revenue from these investments is directed to preserve key lands upstream that filter and regulate the water supply, through activities such as reforestation, ecotourism and monitoring water flows. Water funds also help create incentives for green economic opportunities that have a positive impact on local communities, like sustainable farming.

The Water Funds Manual, which compiles, analyzes and synthesizes years of experience using this tool, provides operational guidelines to people and organizations interested in establishing a water fund or similar mechanism.

LAWFP invests more than $27 million in creating, implementing and capitalizing at least 47 Water Funds in Latin America in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Mexico and other places in Latin America and the Caribbean. These projects will support the conservation of more than 7 million acres of watersheds that, in turn, have the potential to benefit approximately 50 million people.

Water Funds exemplify the “green economy” concept––that societies must develop in ways that yield both environmental and equitable economic benefits. This is one of the key components of this manual.