Hurricane Harvey reminded us just how vulnerable low-lying cities like Houston are in a climate-changed world – especially when we degrade the living ecosystems that regulate floods and absorb greenhouse gasses. Fortunately, we have plenty of tools we can use to develop the “green infrastructure” needed to help us navigate the new reality of life in the Anthropocene.
Environmental NGO EcoLogic has big plans for a bi-national fisheries project between Belize and Guatemala that will ultimately build an organized union of local fisherfolk with decision-making capabilities over the region’s natural resource management and, as a possible byproduct, empower them to meet the looming threat of oil exploitation.
The Natural Capital Declaration (NCD) has been officially active for almost a year and is now ready to move into the second phase, which is the implementation of four commitments, focused on integrating natural capital into financial accounting, presented in the NCD Roadmap.
Ecosystem Marketplace returns from Katoomba XVIII in Beijing full of stories, podcasts and videoblogs on the meeting that focused on forests, water and people. Upon returning, EM turns its attention to new White House guidance on water investments and an innovative wastewater treatment wetlands project in the Colorado Delta.
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) just wrapped up the commenting period on the proposed new guidelines for evaluating Federal water resources investments. The Proposed Guidance is aiming for more balanced investments with an ecosystem services approach that will benefit both the economy and the environment.
The Miyun Reservoir provides drinking water for more than 20 million people in one of the world’s great metropolises, but its core challenges are common around the world, as participants at the Katoomba XVIII meeting relay in these podcasts and videoblogs.
China’s eco-compensation programs are among the most comprehensive payments for ecosystem services on the planet, but delegates to the 18th Katoomba Meeting in Beijing say they must reach more people in more segments if they are to deliver lasting environmental benefits.
More than 200 delegates to Katoomba 18 from as far away as Peru, Switzerland, and Ghana will be spending the next three days in China’s troubled Miyun Reservoir. Their aim: to trade experiences, share lessons learned, and make recommendations to project developers at Miyun on designing and implementing effective watershed investments.
On the opening day of the 18th Katoomba meeting in Beijing, the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Water Resources Specialist, Zhang Qingfeng, offers an update on new trends in Chinese eco-compensation– including early steps towards encouraging private-sector investments in China’s natural infrastructure.
The 18th Katoomba Meeting begins Thursday in Beijing, and will focus on the interaction between forests and water. Todd Gartner of WRI says it couldn’t come at a better time. Here he explains the benefits of investing in natural ecosystems rather than gray infrastructure to treat our water.
A global series of workshops were launched in Bonn, Germany, at the end of 2011 to deliver workable, scalable solutions to the global water challenge by the end of 2014. Though not officially one of those workshops, Katoomba 18 will certainly draw on the lessons learned to date and contribute to the final outcome.
The 18th Katoomba meeting opens tomorrow in Beijing and with it a big opportunity for developing nations to share their experiences and gain valuable information from each other. Here, we look at the varying investments in watershed services programs in China, Peru and Ghana and how sharing ideas could benefit them all.
Pollution from farm fertilizers and industrial facilities that flow into the Mississippi River has led to a huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Nutrient trading is one solution that can improve water quality in a cost-effective way for both industrial firms and farmers.
We’ve all heard how China’s voracious economic growth is destroying its air, water, and forests – but few know of the country’s burgeoning market-based response, which aims to halt environmental degradation by incorporating the value of nature’s services into the production process. EM parent Forest Trends has published an exhaustive inventory of these efforts.
Rapid expansion of agriculture has led to the destruction of forested hills critical for regulating water flows. China’s expansion has been bigger and faster than most, and so are its problems. But the notoriously top-down government has responded with a centrally funded yet incredibly decentralized, flexible, and locally-administered solution.
Katoomba XVIII: Forests, Water and People will take place next month in Beijing and Ecosystem Marketplace will be blogging and tweeting live from the event. Before that EM will make an appearance at the National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking Conference to take place in early May. In between preparing for these events, the water portal, Watershed Connect, was recently translated into Spanish.
Since environmental services’ emergence as a concept in 1997, there have been many efforts to internalize the idea and transform theory into practice. Here, we look at the concept’s evolution into public policy in Mexico where academic literature plays a role in environmental issues and developing countries’ need for the right tools is realized.
For two years now, flower growers along the shore of Kenya’s Lake Naivasha have been paying farmers in the hills 40 kilometers away to adopt sustainable agriculture practices. They’re doing it to save their lake, but it’s also helping farmers lift themselves out of poverty.
Images of oil-drenched Mayflower, Arkansas have been front-page news all week, but the real environmental damage – and economic cost – is being incurred 1500 miles to the north, where the impact of tar sands operations on water supplies is only now coming into focus. It’s time to identify the true cost of tar sands extraction.
Everyone agrees we won’t solve the global water crisis without more involvement from the private sector, but how do we bring them in? One answer, increasingly, is to promote better governance. For only if the public sector functions can the private sector perform.
Ecosystem Marketplace will be hosting a webinar this month on the most up to date financing mechanisms for watershed conservation. Not long after, in May, the Katoomba Group will hold their 18th meeting in Beijing, China to investigate nature-based solutions to the water crisis. Meanwhile, Ecosystem Marketplace is running a story series that explores a watershed payment program in Kenya’s Lake Naivasha Watershed.
Entering into a payments for watershed services program is more akin to getting married than it is to buying a normal product, and participants often face an array of hopes and fears at the outset. Here’s how deep-pocketed flower-growers along the shore of Kenya’s Lake Naivasha and subsistence farmers in the hills 40 kilometers away finally tied the knot – and what it means for similar transactions around the world.
Subsistence farmers in the hills above Kenya’s Lake Naivasha face an uncertain future, and climate-change has only made it worse. Here’s how WWF and CARE teamed up to harvest payments for watershed services that might help those farmers through the coming bad years – and, in the process, save the lake below.
Flower growers in Kenya’s Rift Valley have gradually reduced their runoff to keep their water clean, but subsistence farmers high in the hills can’t afford to implement such actions. WWF is spearheading a payments for watershed services program designed to fix that by asking downstream users to support sustainable agriculture efforts in the catchments.
WRI’s new mapping tool that provides real-time data on water risks could help businesses and nations like South Africa and Canada, who are investing in natural infrastructure to protect their water supplies, manage their resources. Meanwhile, water stressed India is hoping to get some relief with a new initiative that plans to implement climate adaptation projects in 53 villages.
The Supreme Court recently listened to a case arguing the government is not allowed to require a landowner to use personal resources for public use in order to obtain a permit. Here, The Swamp School, an educational group for those interested in wetlands and green issues, has provided key elements of the case that all seem to center around the scope of government.
A TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) report on water and wetlands that was published this month focuses on the importance of wetlands to world economies and the need to bring the fundamental role they play in securing food and a clean water supply to decision-makers in order to incorporate the many services they provide into policies.
Water news ranging from the creation of a "storm panel" in New York City to discuss natural infrastructure investments for protection against the next Sandy-style storm, to a growing payments for watershed services project in Tanzania signal 2013 may be a good year for the water sector. Also, Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of Watershed Payments 2012 report had its live launch in DC last week.
The World Bank received good news recently with several of its climate initiatives moving into new phases starting with the first PoA in China to issue CERs along with 3,000 hectares of a valuable watershed reforested. Meanwhile, Costa Rica becomes the first country to access performance based payments through the Carbon Fund and developed nations funnel more funds toward the FCPF.
Today marks the release of Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of Watershed Payments 2012 report and with it some significant findings that include China leading the world in watershed investments and a US $2 billion increase on the protection of watersheds as a method to ensure safe water supplies as well as the number of water initiatives has doubled since 2008.
In 2010, a Tanzanian water utility became the first investor in a Payments for Watershed Services program designed to promote sustainable agriculture in the hills surrounding the city of Tanga. Three years on, the project is showing results – but more buyers will have to step up if it’s to achieve the kind of scale needed to keep the water flowing.
Lawsuits brought against the EPA, development of a US network of water quality trading programs and the formation of Ecosystem Marketplace’s new platform on water issues, Watershed Connect, are just a few of the noteworthy water stories that occurred in 2012. Here is a look at the highlights.
Several studies have shown that gender equality isn’t just good for women – it also promotes overall economic development. Such equality may also be a knock-on benefit of financing mechanisms that promote the maintenance of watersheds – but only if such programs truly are meritocracies, and only if women themselves are able to grab the opportunity.
Forest Trends is hosting events covering water and carbon at the ACES and Ecosystem Markets conference happening in Florida from December 10th through the 14th. Also, Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of Watershed Payments 2012 is due out in mid-January while sustainable plans have been agreed on for the Murray-Darling and Colorado River Basins.
In Doha, more than a dozen indigenous leaders spoke in favor of the “Indigenous REDD” program, which aims to save more than four million hectares of endangered rainforest using an ecosystems-based valuation approach that doesn’t necessarily harness the carbon market.
Forest Trends is participating in The Peruvian Ministry of Environment’s Peru Watershed Services Incubator’s clinic this week to discuss hydrology, economics and social issues with national agencies and institutions. Hurricane Sandy spurs water and climate risk talks while a former New York environmental Commissioner explains how natural infrastructure helped NYC’s drinking water supplies weather the storm.
Ecosystem Marketplace is putting out a last call for project developers to include their projects in the State of Watershed Payments 2012 report. Meanwhile Volkswagen has implemented a successful groundwater replenishment project in Mexico and Ecotrust released a study claiming ecological restoration can boost the economy.
The Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Environment Program have pored over more than 200 studies to indentify major challenges to the world’s groundwater, rivers, lakes, oceans and land-based pollution sources while also offering science-backed solutions to these problems.The results are being published this week in Bangkok.
As the Clean Water Act nears its 40th anniversary, legal argument over its scope continues to frustrate regulators and regulated alike, getting in the way of effective water protection as well as emerging water quality trading and wetlands mitigation. A panel at the recent Clean Water Act Law and Regulation Conference discussed the issues.
Scores of water-quality trading programs are under development across the United States, but few have reached the operational stage and most are limited to parts of watersheds within specific jurisdictions.The USDA last week unveiled more than $7 million in targeted funding to develop market-infrastructure and a support network.
An interstate water quality trading program is preparing to start pilot trades while a new national draft in India would require water footprinting from industries. Meanwhile, Ecosystem Marketplace continues its data collecting for the State of the Watershed Payments Report, due out this fall.
To ensure reilable supplies of clean water, Bolivian water users asked upland farmers what it would take for them to maintain the watershed. The answers were surprising, and the result is a unique payments for watershed services program that may incentivize watershed conservation across the Andes and around the world.
Israel’s biodiversity is under threat from a list of sources that include urbanization, water scarcity and habitat loss. To beat this threat, a group of scientists, government officials, market experts and others are examining biodiversity financing programs from around the world to implement in Israel that will improve conservation.
A non-profit attempts to repopulate eastern Washington with beavers while the Australian government transacts big buybacks in the Murray-Darling plan. Meanwhile, green infrastructure continues to thrive in the US. Also, Forest Trends reports on their findings from Rio on scaling up payments for watershed services.
Cities and communities around the world have embraced innovative financing mechanisms designed to ensure long-term supplies of clean drinking water by promoting good stewardship of the surrounding watershed. Now, say practitioners, it’s time to scale up – by keeping the programs simple, focused, flexible and local.
Organizations throughout the world are preparing for the Rio +20 Summit beginning next week and Forest Trends is no exception. During the conference, Forest Trends will be busy hosting an event that explores investing in mountain communities through watershed services and also collaborating with Google Earth Outreach on a side event concerning data collection and mapping.
Ten years ago, the city of Quito implemented a $21,000 program designed to preserve upland water supplies by getting downstream water users to pay indigenous people to act as guardians of the watershed. Today, FONAG is a multi-million-dollar program with a history of results and scores of imitators.
Most take it as a given that payments for ecosystem services promote good land stewardship, but do they really? A massive project in Uganda aims to answer that by dividing 1400 households into two groups, each of which is being trained in sustainable land use, but only one of which is getting payments.
Fertilizer and other waste from across America’s Breadbasket washes into the Mississippi Watershed, and the Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to be doing something about it. A group of environmental organizations, led by NRDC, say the Agency isn’t doing its job, and have filed suit to change that.
Influenced by what many cities around the world have done to protect their watersheds, now Lima hopes to protect its watershed in the Peruvian Andes with the Watershed Services Incubator, while Philadelphia comes up with a plan to finance green infrastructure and provide incentives for private landowners to implement green retrofits. Also, Thailand is developing PES initiatives for soil and watershed protection.
Climate change as well as resource scarcity has led environmental conferences and conventions to ask if a water-energy-food, “nexus,” with transparent trade-offs, could be complementary to climate compatible development and useful in managing natural resources.