Contaminated water has long been part of every urban area's growing pains, and it's a major health hazard in rapidly industrializing parts of the developing world, which is why it's the theme of this year's World Water Day. Here's how people are using nature-based solutions to manage it.Read More >
In 2015, the Peruvian capital of Lima made a significant financial commitment to restore the region’s natural infrastructure to help manage its many water woes. Committing is one thing, however, deploying the finance and implementing nature based projects is quite another. To help them figure out how this should work, Lima’s water utility continues to enlist help and is creating a first-of-its-kind master plan for green infrastructure.
Farms have long swapped water rights among themselves or with urban areas, but new research out last month reveals conservationists are now leveraging these tools for environmental purposes – such as leasing irrigation rights but using the water to replenish the watershed to restore habitat for endangered species and help secure clean water for communities.
As drought, flooding and pollution made headlines year-round in 2016, some experts and organization pushed for a return to the basics, solutions that mimicked nature or protected water at its source, while also developing innovative new finance models to fund the mounting costs water management requires.
As the global water crisis mounts, countries, cities and businesses funneled billions of dollars into market-based investments that conserve and restore forests, mangroves, wetlands and grasslands to secure reliable and clean water, says Ecosystem Marketplace's latest report tracking watershed investments, released today.
Watershed investment programs can reduce the costs of managing water while delivering community benefits but they're underused because mobilizing support is difficult and funding can be hard to come by. The World Resources Institute is attempting to ease the burden with a new one-stop resource that offers detailed guidance on what it takes to create a successful watershed investment program.
As degraded watersheds drag California into its sixth year of drought, a new law makes forests, farms, and fields eligible for infrastructure funding – and the state is hardly alone, according to new research by Ecosystem Marketplace, which shows a dramatic surge in payments for watershed services across the United States and around the world.
More and more companies are acknowledging that they depend on reliable supplies of clean water just as much as the rest of us do, and a few dozen have promised to make sure they’re replenishing the aquifers and waterways that sustain them. Unfortunately, only a handful have taken meaningful steps towards doing so. Here’s a look at some of the winners, and what we can learn from them.
When the myriad players in a single watershed start jockeying for water rights, nature is often left out resulting in degraded ecosystems and species decline. But The Nature Conservancy says innovative impact investing in water markets can shift water back to the environment while still delivering benefits to farms and people.
Nature and Culture International is establishing Ecuador's first water school, an institution created to train municipal water workers in the skills required to join and administer a water fund. The water fund model continues to experience success in managing Latin America's stressed water resources and the school is meant to help scale up its use.
Peru has long been among the more innovative countries in dealing with the consequences of climate change, and last week policymakers there approved critical tools that can open the door for public and private investment in forests, water and biodiversity conservation.
Water utilities and NGOs around the world are using market-based mechanisms to clean regional waterbodies and restore surrounding watersheds, but critics say the programs are unproven. Proponents counter: yes, they are, and the data exists to prove it!
Environmentalists have long said that humans must conserve the planet’s living ecosystems if they are to win the war on climate change, and the Paris Climate Agreement made that explicit. As the agreement takes hold, ecosystem conservation is emerging as a key tool for both slowing climate-change and adapting to its consequences – not to mention supporting sustainable development.
The Green Climate Fund gave nature-based solutions a potential boost when it listed IUCN, a big celebrator of leveraging nature to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as a partner organization with authority to implement climate projects. As IUCN places an emphasis on adapting to climate impacts, the announcement has implications for utilizing these natural solutions for adaptation purposes.
March was a big month for water stewardship as consumer-facing companies made commitments to watershed health and natural infrastructure. Meanwhile, the Ecosystem Marketplace water team is collecting data for its State of Watershed Investments 2016 report, due out this fall, and encouraging green infrastructure and watershed protection projects to complete the water survey by May 13.
One way or another, water is wrapped up in essentially every job on the planet, which is why for this year's World Water Day, the United Nations decided to focus on the connection between sustainable and clean water supplies and productive employment, finding payments for ecosystem services programs and investments in conservation can help.
The World Economic Forum may have once again ranked water as one of the top threats facing society but practitioners and thought leaders don't appear discouraged. Instead they're focusing on potential and innovative solutions - developing water quality trading markets in waterways struggling under pollution and engaging in partnerships with unlikely stakeholders, like insurance companies.
The Ohio River Basin Trading Project is the largest water-quality-trading program in the United States, but it’s still dependent on the generosity of donors for survival. This year, it aims to build its base of paying customers with a multi-pronged strategy that includes videos and impact investors.
Climate change has disrupted the world’s water systems, and a handful of governments and companies have responded with funding for nature-based solutions that support healthy watersheds and good water management. We’ll need a lot more than a handful to get the job done, but 2015 offered some promising potential.
Many climate impacts are felt through water which is why several thought leaders from the water space gathered on Wednesday at the ongoing UN climate talks in Paris to discuss just where water fits into a global climate agreement.
Lima made headlines this year when it announced it was restoring pre-Incan canals high in the Andes to address its water shortage. That, however, is just one small part of a nationwide shift towards “green infrastructure” that blends the natural ecosystem of the high Andes with man-made technologies old and new. To make it happen, the country first had to change the way it pays for clean water.
The global water crisis will hit everyone from brewers to bakers hard, but it’s still the rare company that steps up to conserve watersheds. Several participants at a World Water Week event last week highlighted the need to entice private actors into partnerships with public entities by spreading both awareness and risk.
Everything water is on everyone's mind as this week is World Water Week in Stockholm. There, participants, including Ecosystem Marketplace publisher Forest Trends, explored several water-related issues including water valuation and its impact on resource management. Outside of Stockholm, institutional investors insist giant food producers disclose their water risks.
World Water Week opened this week on August 23 which means sustainable water management is on a lot of minds and on Monday, several attendees attempted to pinpoint the true value of water. They found that valuation of water is on the rise as multiple sectors, including the financial, are seeking to understand its role and risks better.
By their very nature, fish are slippery and elusive – as are their habitats. That’s why payments for ecosystems services programs are so rare in fisheries management. But in Bangladesh, where fish and fishing are embedded in the national identity, the government has crafted a program that compensates fishers for conservation.
Six years ago, southern Ecuador’s Regional Water Fund (FORAGUA) began to pool the resources of several municipalities to ensure safe and steady water supplies through sustainable watershed management. In so doing, they created a template for other small cities across the Andes, but that doesn’t mean the work is easy – as Nature and Culture International found when it spearheaded the effort. Here’s what they learned.
Critics like to portray environmental regulation as a job killer, but the restoration economy now provides more jobs than mining, logging, or steel production – all while actually fixing the environment instead of destroying it – according to a new study.
Microfinance has helped millions of farmers emerge from poverty, while environmental finance has helped hundreds of thousands shift to more sustainable land-use practices. Now a Kenyan start-up has developed a credit system that delivers a bit of both worlds by embedding conservation into loan requirements for smallholder farmers.
This month, Ecosystem Marketplace publisher Forest Trends launched an interactive map and database tracking and categorizing over 2,000 payments for ecosystem services in Brazil called the Brazilian Matrix of Ecosystem Services. In other news, a diverse national water quality trading network released a program-building guide.
Parties with an interest in regulations falling under the Clean Water Act are still sorting out the implications of the recently finalized Clean Water Rule. Meanwhile, green infrastructure scored several victories this month as New York City, Detroit and Xiamen contemplate using the practice to manage stormwater overflows.
The US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers finalized their Clean Water Rule on Wednesday. First impressions of the rule meant to protect US waterways from various sources of pollution through clearer definitions of which wetlands and streams are covered under the Clean Water Act are mixed.
Nicolas Pascal, of the BlueFinance project, a data collection initiative aimed at developing finance mechanisms for marine conservation management, says market mechanisms have potential to fill a big part of a funding gap that exists in marine conservation. But its practical experience in coastal environments is limited and so more know-how is needed to spur private investment.
The city of Lima made headlines around the world when it announced it was funneling some of its water fees into a program to restore pre-Incan structures that capture excess rainwater in the rainy season and redirect into the mountain, so that it's available in the dry season. That program, however, is just a small part of a massive green infrastructure program that could serve as a model for cities around the world.
Water brings life, but torrential downpours bring sludge and sewage overflow – contributing pollution around the world. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency is under pressure to regulate more aggressively, but, increasingly, NGOs and local authorities are moving ahead with cost-effective stormwater management plans of their own.
The world is overwhelmed by water stress and scarcity and sustainable water management in many forms is an absolute necessity. The good news is water practitioners are developing innovative solutions to water challenges that will be shared this week during the multi-sector, high level and collaborative World Water Forum.
Five years ago, Denver teamed up with the US Forest Service to funnel money it collects from water fees into forest restoration that will protect the city's water supply. Ecosystem Marketplace covered the program's launch in 2010 and checked back in for World Water Day to find the partnership is making significant progress treating more forestland at a lower than expected cost.
Louisiana’s disappearing coastlines are propelling renewed efforts to preserve the areas that can be saved before it’s too late. A new study finds the carbon markets could potentially contribute up to $1.6 billion toward this effort, if the offsets generated by wetlands restoration projects are eventually welcomed into the compliance markets.
Science tells us that healthy forests make healthy rivers and lakes, but policy rarely reflects the connection. That could be changing as the general public comes to better understand the role that deforestation plays in climate change – an understanding that could ratchet up an appreciation of all the ecosystem services that forests deliver.
The Electric Power Research Institute (ERPI) moves its water quality trading program in the Ohio River Basin into a new stage with the upcoming public auction of stewardships generated during the first three years of the project. Also, a new framework on catchment-based management for the mining industry offers sector-specific guidance.
As Louisiana's wetlands and mangroves retreat, the low-lying state becomes more and more susceptible to hurricanes and other coastal disruptions. Fortunately, mangrove forests also pull massive amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the ocean floor. A new study says that carbon finance could provide up to $1.6 billion for wetland restoration in that state.
As it stands, some companies take environmental issues and sustainability seriously but the majority don't. Here, Ivo Mulder, the REDD+ Green Economy Advisor for UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), argues how quantifying environmental risks in monetary terms may be necessary to convince the bulk of corporations to follow suit.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is holding a public auction to sell the stewardship credits generated during the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project's pilot phase. While success isn't certain, developers of the historic project are sure significant lessons will be learned in terms of moving forward with water quality trading.
The main objective of microfinance is to alleviate poverty which is why the socio-economic benefits of payments for ecosystem services projects imply the potential of collaboration between the two sectors. And speaking of poverty alleviation, Bolivia has developed a conservation mechanism it says helps the poor while hurting the deforester.
While microfinance models have been hugely successful on a global scale in providing the means for people to escape extreme poverty, they aren’t often used to finance payments for ecosystem services projects that offer many poverty alleviating benefits. Despite it being risky and costly, both sectors see potential in working together on a larger scale.
The severity and frequency of wildfires has regions like the US West scrambling for solutions. New research presented during a webinar shows Colorado is taking advantage of the watershed investment approach as more water providers in the state adopt Denver's celebrated investments in watershed services project that simultaneously protects the city's water supply and reduces wildfire risk.
The tremendous demand human society has for water, food and energy is only expected to increase. And as sectors search for ways to apply integrated solutions that address the needs of all three sectors, they are too often leaving out a critical component – nature – says Ecosystem Marketplace’s most recent report on watershed investments.
As the constraint on natural resources increases, the public and private sector are becoming more receptive to holistic nature-based solutions to address infrastructure and other challenges. Ecosystem Marketplace noticed particular growth in this area as it looks back over the year.
Today, multiple federal agencies recognized Virginia's nutrient trading program as a natural, cost-efficient and effective approach to improving water quality in the heavily polluted Chesapeake Bay watershed. Federal recognition of the program also indicates potential for more involvement in environmental markets at the national level.
The Lima Climate Talks wrapped up early Sunday morning with a bare-bones agreement on what constitutes a valid Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution (INDC) and a roadmap to year-end talks in 2015 that will begin with bottom-up proposals from countries and hopefully end with a convergence in Paris. With so little detail on INDCs, countries will have to step up individually by March.
The United States and China made headlines last week when they said they'd limit their greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen cooperation on issues related to climate change and clean energy. Included in the deal is an agreement to use carbon-capture technology to push greenhouse gasses into the ground while generating clean water.
The third installment in our Crowdrise series looks closely at the ecosystems of mangroves. These salt-adapted trees lining our coasts are often overlooked despite their economic, social and ecological importance. Forest Trends is one of several organizations worldwide that has taken notice of the mangroves’ plight initiating a data-collection project to help prevent further damage.
More than 23 billion profit-seeking dollars flowed into ecosystem-friendly investments over the past five years, but less than $2 billion of that came from the private sector. Most of that $2 billion, however, went into sustainable food and fiber – a sector that’s been growing at 26% a year and looks set to surge by at least $5.5 billion through 2018. In fact, $1.5 billion has already been raised, a new survey finds.
Natural infrastructure and watershed investments could serve as valuable solutions to the ongoing droughts happening in California and elsewhere. The latest article in our Crowdrise series looks at nature-based solutions to the global water crisis drawing on findings from the State of Watershed Investments 2014 report.
In order to maintain ecosystem services, Europe must increase its use of natural infrastructure, a study concluded. In the US, meanwhile, Vermont is considering water quality trading for Lake Champlain. And last week, Forest Trends (publisher of Ecosystem Marketplace) kicked off a six-week fundraising effort spearheaded by the Skoll Foundation.
All around the world, from Lima to Dar es Salaam, cities are looking to keep their water flowing by nurturing the watersheds that feed their rivers and streams. Now The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Law Institute have taken stock of what works and what doesn’t. Here’s a look at their latest guidance on watershed restoration.
The private sector doubled their investment in watershed health during 2013 to $41 million, according to findings from the State of Watershed Investments 2014 Executive Summary-out this month. In other news, the Water Benefit Standard launched at World Water Week and the first ever transaction of Stormwater Retention Credits occurred in Washington D.C.
Washington D.C.'s Stormwater Retention Credit (SRC) trading program hit a milestone this month. D.C.'s District Department of the Environment approved the first trade of the program-11, 013 SRCs worth $25,000. The program allows property owners who voluntarily implement green infrastructure that reduces stormwater runoff to earn credits and generate revenue.
The Gold Standard Foundation's Water Benefit Standard launches today at World Water Week. The Standard, initiated through an innovative public private partnership, uses the results-based finance approach from the carbon world to generate long-term funding for water projects that also deliver socio-economic benefits.
Cities, towns, and companies that directly need water for their product poured nearly $10 billion into projects that provide clean water by supporting healthy watersheds. That's just a drop in the bucket compared to what's needed, however, largely because energy providers and others dependent on clean water haven't yet started pitching in.
During next week's annual World Water Week, Ecosystem Marketplace will be on hand previewing findings from the State of Watershed Investment 2014 report. Related to WWW's theme of the water energy nexus, the World Bank's Diego Rodriguez explains the Thirsty Energy initiative and California analyzes forest management in the wake of last year's Rim Fire.
Moving from talking about the interlinked thinking behind the water-energy nexus to implementing its approach is a tricky transition. World Bank Economist Diego Rodriguez says the new Thirsty Energy initiative aims to do just that, however, by providing governments with the necessary tools and guidance.
One year ago this month, the infamous Rim Fire started burning in northern California's Sierra Nevada mountains. It raged for two full months and destroyed hundreds of homes and ecosystem services. Then something peculiar happened: the fire slowed when it hit the more naturally-managed Yosemite forest, offering one more key to help us manage our forests in a changing climate.
Tanzania and China experiment with public-private partnerships to minimize water-related risks while Costa Rica models the revolving loan fund for watershed protection. And Ecosystem Marketplace reaches the one month mark before its State of Watershed Investment 2014 report launches.
The Nectandra Institute, a Costa Rican non-profit focused on forest and watershed conservation, is attempting to bring the revolving loan fund mechanism-new to watershed protection-to the San Carlos basin. Here, Kate Hamilton, a private consultant in the environmental markets space, chats with Nectandra regarding project design and outlook.
Natural capital accounting receives another boost as a UK water utility becomes the first of its kind to develop an environmental profit & loss account. Payments for ecosystem services (PES) received a boost as well with passage of Peru's PES law that establishes a framework for compensation between providers and beneficiaries.
In order to solve global freshwater scarcity challenges while providing enough food and energy for a growing population, the linkages between water, energy and food security must be fully understood. Here’s a look at how our demands for energy, food and water all drive each other, and how we can prevent them from driving in the wrong direction.
Six years in the making, Peru's new Ecosystem Services Law passed on Thursday, providing a comprehensive legal framework for the sticky issue of payments for ecosystem services (PES). It is one of the most advanced pieces of legislation of its type, but had been stuck in committee for five years. Here is the latest from Lima.
Businesses embrace the water energy nexus with innovative water-saving techniques and energy efficient measures. D.C. based non-profit, the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, highlighted companies' success stories in a recent report and event that took place in May. In other news, H&M's water stewardship efforts in China face new challenges and the US West continues to practice water cooperation.
Global demand for both water and energy is spiraling upward, with long-term implications for food security. Several private-sector initiatives have emerged to promote more coordination of energy and water issues, and this week the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation will offer insight into what works and what doesn’t.
Two annual meetings take place this week and Ecosystem Marketplace will be on hand to cover them both. Meanwhile, EM's 2014 water survey wrapped up last week and water cooperation received a boost with Nestle and General Mills signing on to the International Water Stewardship Standard.
Peruvians have spent the last six years developing a comprehensive legal framework for the sticky issue of payments for ecosystem services (PES). The current bill is one of the most advanced pieces of legislation of its type, but it’s been stuck in committee for five years, and will remain so as the 20th Katoomba Meeting kicks off next week in Lima.
Between now and August, we’ll be examining the economic benefits of coral reefs and financing mechanisms designed to help preserve them. Here’s a look at the other side of that equation: what it costs to maintain them, and the challenge of meeting that cost through conventional means.
Ecosystem Marketplace is gearing up for the 2014 State of Watershed Payments report. The report will cover the water energy food nexus and watershed investments among other topics. Meanwhile, EM is also preparing for Katoomba XX in Lima Peru where discussions will focus on aligning climate policy with other commitments that support resilient ecosystems and societies.
In 2008, the Australian government launched an initiative, Reef Rescue, aimed at protecting and restoring the environment. Last year, Amanda Cornwall, a legal and policy consultant, discussed the program advising that it needs to focus in on assisting farmers in improving water quality. That means learning from other successful schemes, she says.
The Ohio River Basin Trading Project is the world's first interstate water quality trading program and on March 11, the Electric Power Research Institute, which created the initiative, will host an event to showcase the project's first water nutrient credits.
Ecosystem Marketplace is taking an up-close look at the landscapes approach to nature and conservation starting with two Katoomba Meetings this spring, which will help prompt cross-sector collaboration. Meanwhile, EM monitors landscapes thinking activities in Yorkshire, England and the US.
The lack of reliable data on forests has long been a major challenge in the battle against deforestation. But a new tool powered by Google aims to provide real-time information on forest clearing and empower local communities and other stakeholders to fight back.
Ecosystem Marketplace's briefing for the business community on water risk, published this month, provides the sector with nature-based solutions to their water challenges while citing companies that have already met with success using this approach. Preparations are underway for two upcoming Katoomba events-one in Brazil in March and the other in Peru in April.
The Amazon region faces growing threats to its water, energy, food and health as climate change accelerates, and Peru is one of the nations that’s proven most adept at meeting that challenge. The country’s Environment Minister, who is also presiding over this year’s UN climate talks, says his country still has plenty of learning to do – and recommended a bit of homework.
It's a fact that human life relies on the natural world but figuring out how to measure this dependency is difficult. Tundi Agardy, a marine conservation expert and the director of Forest Trends' Marine Ecosystem Services Program, discusses her views on the benefits and dangers of ecosystem services valuations.
While water risk was ranked third among the World Economic Forum's Global Risk 2014 report, at least three of the report's top 10 risks are directly related to water problems like pollution and scarcity prompting authors to argue these risks reach farther than originally thought and must be solved through public-private collaboration.
Less than 5% of all companies have acted on the impact that landscape-level water disruptions can have on their bottom line. The few companies that have, however, are developing solutions that can be used to head off water shortages around the world. A new Ecosystem Marketplace report examines what works, what doesn’t, and why.
Government programs aimed at reducing pollution from farming activities in the Mississippi River Basin have traditionally operated on a farm scale. However the World Resources Institute has been studying a different type of initiative that uses a landscape approach targeting critical watersheds and finds the project has serious potential to improve water quality throughout US waterways.
Maryland's Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is disappearing due to sea level rise and is fast converting into open water. But non-profit The Conservation Fund in partnership with other organizations and federal agencies have crafted a plan to save the critical bird habitat with an adaptation strategy involving marsh migration upslope.
As Ecosystem Marketplace looks back over water in 2013, it finds the year was marked by events like the Katoomba meeting in Beijing and the watershed payments report launch. Watershed investment programs were on the rise in East Africa where participants include flower-growers along Kenya's Lake Naivasha and Tanga, Tanzania's water utility.
The year is winding down and the top stories of 2013 in biodiversity and wetlands may be the biggest headlines of 2014 as many of them remain unresolved. The lawsuits in Louisiana over their coastal wetlands are ongoing as is the decision over how best to conserve the dwindling prairie chicken. Here's a look back.
There are implications for water in the 'landscapes approach' that everyone has been talking about in that it has the potential to align climate finance with sustainable water management goals like food security and water quality. Meanwhile, the USDA and EPA announced a partnership to scale up water quality trading markets and the Chinese examine natural infrastructure investment.
Typhoon Haiyan recently provided a devastating reminder of the destructive power of hurricaines – a destructive power that the people of Monterrey, Mexico know all too well. That's why they are building an investments in watershed services program designed to shield them from the worst forms of natural disaster destruction and also put a little water in the bank for dry days.
The Carbon Disclosure Project's Global Water Report 2013 reports more disclosure from companies than ever but also warns businesses are still not accounting for risks at the watershed level. Meanwhile the Ecosystem Marketplace water team is putting together a briefing for business on watershed investments.
Linwood Pendleton, the Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at Duke University, recently answered questions on marine and coastal ecosystem services during an interactive 'Office Hour' online chat. The questions were wide-ranging, but Pendleton focused on connecting with decision makers through relevant high quality data that is easily communicated.
The United States faces an infrastructure crisis that will only get worse as climate change takes hold. Last month, the World Resources Institute, together with Earth Economics and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, published a detailed examination of the science, the finance, and the business case for meeting the challenge with new investments in forests and green infrastructure.
The past month saw movement in the green infrastructure space with an assessment on green infrastructure valuation tools and a $50 million fund slated to implement natural infrastructure upgrades in Chicago. Also this month, two papers from Forest Trends offering thoughts on the social impact assessment of investments in watershed services programs.
A Peruvian sociologist dedicated to poverty alleviation has helped implement a version of payments for watershed services projects in impoverished nations like Guatemala, Peru and Indonesia with the help of WWF. The initiatives have led to a host of benefits for the local populations and ecosystems and now have the Chinese government as well as other nations interested in the model.
Good land stewardship and energy efficiency both support our economy, but governments don’t pay nearly as much attention to the economic benefits of investment in environmental restoration as they do to investments in energy efficiency. Damon Hess of Sitka Technology argues that they should.
Ecosystem Marketplace is at the One Water Leadership Summit in Los Angeles this week where everyone is thinking about the water-energy nexus. Meanwhile, Australia's newly elected government reduces funds for Murray-Darling buybacks and Coca-Coca enters into a partnership with the USDA to protect US National Forests.
This Week is World Water Week and a coalition spanning the US-Mexico border is a perfect example of this year's theme-water cooperation. The group is thinking outside the box to restore the Colorado River delta - using water rights markets, recaptured wastewater, and a groundbreaking new federal deal-that's breathing new life into an ecosystem widely assumed to be gone forever.
Two organizations with a shared interest in improving the Chesapeake Bay watershed are divided over a draft nutrient trading bill in Pennsylvania, with supporters foreseeing a slash in the cost of Bay cleanup and opponents seeing technology that isn't cost-competitive or compliant with state and federal regulations.
This week is World Water Week in Stockholm with this year's theme focusing on water cooperation and building partnerships. Seminars, interviews and other features will be available online. Meanwhile, forest fires in the US west are bringing water-energy-food nexus thinking to the fore, with the region's energy and water supplies vulnerable to the fires and overall climate risk.
The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East (SLFPAE) has pursued legal action against 97 oil and gas companies for damages to Louisiana's coast. In an interview with Harry Shearer, SLFPAE vice president John Barry offers big-picture insight into the factors degrading the coast and driving the suit.
Most of Louisiana’s oil and gas companies are on the defensive after a state entity sued nearly 100 of them for damages they caused by destroying protective wetlands. A handful of companies, however, have identified wetland restoration as a major goal – for their protection and the protection of the state. Here’s a look at one of the biggest.
Forest Trends' Water Initiative will preview their work on blending green and grey infrastructure at World Water Week later this month. In the meantime, the Ohio River Basin water quality trading program is moving forward on pilot trades and an agency responsible for flood control in Louisiana is suing over 100 oil and gas companies for coastal land degradation in a groundbreaking new lawsuit.
Tierra Resources’ new carbon methodology could help close the financing gap for wetlands restorations projects on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, offering an extra push for private landowners. Entergy, the major utility in the region, sees more than one reason to be involved.
One of the agencies responsible for flood control in the US state of Louisiana is suing more than 100 oil and gas companies for damages caused by degraded coastal lands. Even if the suit fails, it could push the concept of ecosystem services into the mainstream.
Sissel Waage of BSR (Business of Social Responsibility) discusses reasons why ecosystem services thinking is on the rise as the number of governments investing in ecosystem services and companies incorporating their environmental impacts into existing business models continue to grow.
The likely winners of Australia's upcoming election pledge to cap instream buybacks and a Pennsylvania bill could promote unmarketable nutrient credits. Meanwhile, recommendations from Katoomba China have been recently released and a Chinese-language version of Watershed Connect launched.
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 investment. 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 aren't much different than those of smaller waterbodies located in Ecuador, Peru, or the United State. We speak with Katoomba XVIII participats from those three countries.
More than 200 delegates to Katoomba XVIII from as far away as Peru, Switzerland, and Ghana will be spending the next three days in China's troubled Miun Reservoir. Their aim: to trade experiences, share lessons learned, and make recommendations to project developers at Miyun on designing and implementing effective watershed investments.
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.
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 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.
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 XVIII will certainly draw on the lessons learned to date and contribute to the final outcome.
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.
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 best and 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.
Entering into a PWS 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 programs.
To build ecosystem markets, we’ve tended to break holistic nature into incomplete but measurable chunks of nature – and then we wonder why it’s difficult to bundle those chunks into something holistic. Maybe instead of stacking existing credits, we should be creating more holistic instruments.
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 PWS program designed to fix that, by asking downstream users to support sustainable agriculture efforts in the catchments.
WRI's (World Resources Institute) 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.
Nearly all types of environmental finance – whether mitigation banking, payments for watershed services, or REDD – involve some form of remote sensing. But this catch-all phrase encompasses scores of practices using radar, lidar, and infrared technology from satellites, airplanes, and blimps. Here's how they all fit together.
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.
Forest Trends' Ecosystem Marketplace launched its State of Watershed Payments 2012 report on January 24th at the World Bank in Washington D.C. Here, Gena Gammie, of Forest Trends' Water Initiative, provides an overview of the launch noting key points from the report and the speakers.
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 cost of repairing and updating aging gray infrastructure in the US is high, and will require a significant amount of finance, which is why Todd Gartner of WRI says the time is now for a switch to green infrastructure to manage cities' water resources. Here he explains the benefits of investing in natural ecosystems rather than gray infrastructure to treat our water.
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 investment and a US $2 billion increase on protecting watersheds as a method to ensure a safe water supply as well as the number of water initiatives has doubled since 2008.
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.
Environmental degradation robs countries of fish, forests and grazing land, which robs them of economic vitality and raises the risk of them not being able to make good on their debts. That’s the key finding of tthe E-RISC project, which examined a variety of ecological risks and factored them into sovereign credit risk. Most countries, it found, aren’t.
Micronesia’s 2,100 islands and atolls are mere specs on the ocean upon which they depend, but activities on land are destroying the marine habitat that supports them. That’s prompted several environmental organizations to ask whether payments for ecosystem services can promote harmony among competing interests on land, sea, and stream.
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.
Even if we eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions today, climate change is here to stay. That means we must prepare for more and more events like Hurricane Sandy – in part by replacing our tar and concrete infrastructure with green systems that mimic and incorporate nature. Fortunately, this transformation is already underway.
Leading ecologist Steven Apfelbaum observes the upcoming presidential election noting three critical issues, soil nutrient depletion, prolonged severe weather and drought, and epidemic diseases, which have disastrous potential if not properly addressed. Apfelbaum examines the cause and solution for these fundamental issues.
Climate change is projected to bring more storms and longer droughts spread over a wider area than at any time in recorded history – effects we may already be feeling. CDKN tells us what the science says about water supplies, agriculture, and overall human health – and what we can do about it.
Scores of studies and analyses suggest that the costs of ignoring climate change are likely to far outweigh the costs of avoiding it, but estimates of business-as-usual climate change continue to tick upward. Before we can understand and manage climate-change risk, we need to understand and manage the brains that evolution gave us.
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.
Conservationists and scientists hope to promote economic incentives for protecting coastal ecosystems with a recent study that highlights the large amounts of carbon they sequester. It examines the benefits of these ecosystems if healthy along with the major environmental and economic losses that come with their destruction.
The US Forestry Service recently introduced a new ecosystem-service-based forest-planning rule, but a group of land industry organizations say it’s in violation of several pieces of land management legislation. They’ve sued to halt what they see as governmental overreach.
In order for the USDA to launch their water quality trading network next month, they require funding from NCRS to support various WQT projects throughout the US. The names of the projects that will receive grant money has recently been released.
New Ecotrust report says restoration created 6,483 jobs in Oregon in fields like construction and landscaping, generated $977.5 million in economic activity from 2001-2010. The report says restoration will benefit the economy in the long term as well.
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.
Although scientists know the thick ecosystems found near ocean shores store carbon for a millennium, blue carbon’s importance has still gone mostly unrecognized. Now, one scientist closely observes the state of blue carbon in BC weighing in on what we know about it and ways to go about protecting it.
The conference, which runs from July 31 to August 4, includes presentations and discussions from practitioners, policy makers, educators and researchers from across the globe. Ecosystem Marketplace’s Genevieve Bennett will be live blogging throughout the event in Portland, Oregon.
The Natural Capital Declaration aims to push environmental risks and rewards onto corporate balance sheets in an effort to promote responsible stewardship of natural resources. It has the backing of 39 financial institutions, and many of them are meeting in London on Thursday to explore ways of turning the declaration into deeds.
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.
The Farm Bill represents the single biggest source of conservation funding in the United States. The US House of Representatives has begun marking up its version of a new $500 billion-dollar bill that the Senate passed last month with broad bipartisan support. The House version has some significant changes – it makes deeper cuts and lacks an important conservation amendment that passed in the Senate – and neither version mentions ecosystem 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.
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
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.
In an effort to make its stormwater management program more efficient, the city of Philadelphia is implementing a new pricing structure that rewards companies for greening their properties. To make it as pallatable as possible, they are also looking to see if financing mechanisms pioneered in renewable energy can be used here. The result could be good for the city -- and for environmental financiers.
Mitigation and Ecosystem Bankers from across the US are gathering in Sacramento, California for the country's biggest gathering of folks involved or interested in wetland mitigation banking, conservation banking, and issues at the very cutting edge in the non-carbon market world. Becca Madsen of Madsen Environmental is providing day-by-day on the Eko-Eco Blog
The Chesapeake Bay is on life support, and the medical bills are hefty – with some estimates approaching $1.5 billion per year just to reduce runoff to a manageable level. A new study says that water-quality trading can slash costs by more than 75% – but only if the types of buyers is expanded beyond cities and factories.
Hundreds of cities across the United States are struggling to deal with stormwater runoff that backs up sewers and endangers water supplies. Absorbant "green" sidewalks, roofs, and parking lots can take the load of ageing sewage systems, but those cost money. The city of Philadelphia is experimenting with an innovative financing mechanism that can make the transition easier for all of us -- and lucrative for ecosystem entrepreneurs.
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 is changing that with targeted funding for programs that develop market-infrastructure and a support network to be operational by September.
Today we celebrate the 42nd Earth Day – an event that also marks nearly 40 years of ecosystem markets. Here’s a look at some of the highlights we’ve achieved since April 22, 1970. We’ll leave the low-lights for another day.
Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gas emissions today, developing countries will suffer from climate change for decades to come. The Climate and Development Knowledge Network aims to help countries adapt by spreading awareness across Asia, Africa and Latin American and Caribbean regions.
It's been a big month for water. In early March, decision-makers from around the world convened for the 6th World Water Forum in Marseilles. Next, we celebrated World Water Day, which took as its theme this year the water-food security nexus. Then on March 29th, the Clean Water Act officially hit middle age, turning 40. We provide coverage of all these highlights in April's Water Log.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has long responded to violations of the Clean Water Act by issuing administrative compliance orders, which can't be challenged until the EPA initiates enforcement actions. But last week the Supreme Court found in favor of an Idaho couple who argued that they shouldn’t have to wait til enforcement to get their day in court.
Water quality in the United States has come a long way since 1969, when Ohio’s Cuyahoga River became so full of pollution that it literally caught on fire – one of those seminal events that helped spur the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency one year later and the creation of the landmark Federal Water Pollution Control Act, better known as the Clean Water Act two years after that. The CWA turns 40 this year.
Water shortages threaten to undermine economic growth and spark conflicts around the world. In response, the US State Department is spearheading the development of a global alliance of governments, corporations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) aimed at harnessing new technologies for water management.
The theme of this year's World Water Day, water and food security, calls our attention to growing - and interlinked - pressures on agriculture, livelihoods, and ecosystems. Here, we offer a brief introduction to the water and food security challenge and some innovative solutions.
Ecosystem markets and eco-labeling both aim to incentivize good environmental behavior, and now they’ve been combined into the “Incentives Trifecta”, which aims to promote good stewardship of salmon habitat by using eco-labels to drive consumer demand, ecosystem markets to provided additional income, and regulatory assurances to provide a degree of security.
Waterbodies like lakes and streams are only as healthy as the watersheds in which they nest, and the consequences of poor watershed management have been devastaing in terms of life and expensive in terms of livelihoods. A new platform aims to promote water solutions by making it easier to invest in ecological infrastructure.
The Brazilian state of Acre has implemented a comprehensive legal framework to support compensation and payments for ecosystem services, and indigenous groups are among the first to begin implementing it. Here’s a look at how the program is being rolled out.
The downward flow of water from the Eastern Arc Mountains of Africa generates up to half of Tanzania's power and provides much of Dar es Salaam's drinking water. As agriculture moves up the slopes, however, it destroys the natural ecosystems that support the ancient catchments. A five-year effort to value those ecosystem services wraps up this month.
Exciting times at Ecosystem Marketplace!
Next week our newest venture, Watershed Connect, will launch at the 6th World Water Forum. Watershed Connect is an online platform to advance watershed solutions that value and create investment in natural capital.
The state of Montana has more outstanding water rights than it has water, and it’s taking a toll on the state’s streams and aquifers. Chris Corbin thinks a water bank specifically for mitigation can solve the problem. If his idea works, it’ll be the latest in a series of projects in the West that use water rights markets to remedy environmental problems.
Ranchers understand the importance of watershed services as well as anyone and better than most, which is why the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute decided to map watershed services in the arid and semi-arid lands that cover approximately 80% of Kenya.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has long responded to violations of the Clean Water Act by issuing administrative compliance orders, which can't be challenged in court until the EPA initiates enforcement actions. An Idaho couple says that's not fair, and their challenge has gone all the way to the Supreme Court. The case is expected to be heard Monday.
The past few weeks have been busy ones for the Forest Trends team - we're hard at work on a new online platform that will bring you all things watershed payment-related, from a project development cycle guide to a global inventory of programs. We'll be launching our new venture early next month; stay tuned for updates!
Ecosystem markets have helped bring the value of nature’s services into our economy, but University of Oregon pioneer Robert Costanza and former Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets boss Sally Collins say we need to explore new mechanisms. That's kicked up plenty of dust on the Ecosystem Commons.
Mitigation bankers are on the hook financially for projects that fail to deliver the promised environmental benefits, but the systems that cover financial assurance not only tie up cash but fail to generate payments that benefit the environment. A new insurance mechanism may prove both more cost-effective and greener.
As we head into 2012, on our radar is the water-food security nexus; it'll be the theme of World Water Week this year. A trio of stories from Africa illustrate how watershed payments and economic valuation are gaining traction as a tool to address water security issues where livelihoods and agricultural production are at risk, a departure from the old environment-versus-development storyline. We also take a look at China's experiments with "eco-compensation" to safeguard water supplies.
It was a turbulent year for water markets, with efforts to standardize offsetting procedures across jurisdictions gaining traction even as opponents of water markets – and, indeed, of environmental protection of any sort – dug in their heels as massive flooding along the Mississippi River underlined the economic value of healthy wetlands. Here is a look at some of our top water stories – and a chance for you to vote on your favorite water stories from all sources.
In a dramatic reversal of stated policy, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called off its push for federally-imposed numeric water quality standards for Florida waterbodies, and instead given a preliminary blessing to standards developed by state officials
As China expands economically, one of the largest resource constraints is clean drinking water, a problem being addressed in part by “eco-compensation.” Now the central government is developing a nation Eco-Compensation ordinance. A new paper out today details recommendations on what this new ordinance should look like.
It is easy to forget that the water from our faucets has a long journey from its source to our homes, but that journey has a big impact on the cost of water treatment. The healthier the watershed it flows through, the lower the cost of treatment. Last week, the US Forest Service released maps highlighting the importance of forests in that journey.
The Southern US could permanently lose tens of millions of acres of forest to development over the next 30 years, which means the loss of ecosystem benefits, including timber, water purification, and recreation opportunities. The World Resources Institute (WRI) has identified some economic incentives that can help the South mitigate the loss of these benefits.
Climate change will one day wreak havoc on rivers, streams, and lakes – but today’s water shortages flow from sloppy land use and growing populations. More and more corporations are beginning to take stock of their exposure to water risk, and in the process they are developing tools we can all use to manage this critical resource. Here’s a look at some of them.
In several US states, new water quality standards are setting clear targets and demanding accountability for pollution cleanup. Opponents, however, have filed legal challenges to two of the more ambitious efforts: one in Florida and the other in the Chesapeake Bay region. The outcome could spur water quality trading across the United States – or stifle it.
Water shortages could dampen corporate profits around the world, but that could actually be good for the world’s poor – if companies recognize that water risk is shared by all and use their clout to promote sustainable water stewardship. Nearly 90% of companies in one survey said they recognize the risk, but few seem to agree on how to quantify it.
With 141 million urban residents worldwide lacking access to drinking water, World Water Day focused on the strain water supplies are feeling with growing populations. The day allowed governments, organizations and corporations to highlight the innovative projects implemented around the world to assist cities as they combat the problems.
In today's economy, transactions in one part of the world often impact ecosystems far away. Ecosystem markets, however, tend to be strictly local. Now the Willamette Partnership is experimenting with mechanisms that can at least deliver uniformity across borders, which will make for more efficient markets – and mitigation
Clean water doesn’t come cheap. Communities and businesses often rely on expensive water filtration infrastructure to ensure their clean water supplies. But communities around the world have been protecting upstream forests instead of building new, costly water treatment infrastructure. Can this strategy work in the US south?
Cash-strapped governments around the world are using market mechanisms to keep water clean and prevent a threat that rivals climate change, according to a new report that documents nearly 300 programs involving nearly $10 billion in transactions. It was launched at the 17th Katoomba Meeting in Hanoi.
A functioning society needs reliable supplies of clean drinking water, but this unappreciated commodity is becoming increasingly scarce, in part because the cost of using it has not been integrated into the economy. World Water Week examined solutions to the global crisis in water quality, and here's our take on those solutions focused on financing.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has released its new Guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV). The guide, the first major attempt to package approaches to ecosystem valuation specifically for business, offers private sector actors a framework for understanding how – and how much – their businesses depend on ecosystem services.
The Conservation Fund has spearheaded an effort to preserve a swath of rare and endangered river-swamp forest by cashing in on the ecosystem's natural ability to filter water. This massive mitigation bank shows that bigness has its environmental benefits, but can it turn a profit?
US Supreme Court decisions of the past decade have left wetland regulations unclear and unenforced. New clean water guidance from the Obama administration aims to provide clarity and expand enforcement while not contradicting the decisions. The result could be improved protection of drinking water – and expanded use of markets to aid that protection.
As governments around the world experiment with market-based solutions to water pollution, they look for lessons to those who have gone before them. The Ecosystem Marketplace examines the structure of the US water trading markets, and takes stock of the lessons learned.
Farmers and other diffuse polluters should, in theory, welcome money from industry for voluntarily reducing their runoff – but high commodity prices and a fear of regulatory entanglement has put a lid on demand in water quality trading in the US. The Ecosystem Marketplace examines the challenge of stimulating WQT demand.
Like many cities around the world, Denver gets its drinking water from rivers and reservoirs, which in turn get their water from forests. Many of those forests, however, are in trouble – thanks to funding cuts, climate change, and a horde of opportunistic beetles. That puts the city's water supply at risk as well, so Denver teamed up with the US Forest Service to funnel money it collects from water fees into forest restoration. And it's not the only city to do so.
More and more cities are coming to realize that they can slash water treatment costs by investing in the maintenance of distant forests and valleys – thereby laying the foundation for a more sustainable water strategy by improving the forest's ability to capture, store, and filter rainwater. New tools are helping them maximize their investments by identifying the most environmentally valuable pieces of forestland.
Water trading has been hailed as the "next carbon", and schemes for valuing and trading both water usage and water "inputs" are proliferating across North and South America, Asia, and Africa. The Ecosystem Marketplace reviews the fundamentals of this promising ecosystem market.
US President Barack Obama has called for a massive increase in spending to revive our crumblng built infrastructure, but he's so far failed to mention the equally threatened and far more basic "green infrastructure" that provides our air, water, and food. Ricardo Bayon argues that a little bit of strategic investment here can go a long, long way.
A US federal judge in Florida has ruled in favor of the federal EPA’s plan to impose numeric limits on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen running into the Everglades. It's not only a victory for the Everglades, but could open the door to innovative water-quality trading mechanisms down the road.