A shared goal to integrate natured-based solutions in water infrastructure planning and spending

IWA-TNC Joint Statement on Cooperation Partnership

The International Water Association (IWA) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) today announce a partnership to help municipalities and utilities to invest in catchment protection and nature-based solutions. Catchment protection is a cost-effective means to improve water security but remains unusual in the water sector. Municipal and utility leadership is needed to protect water at its source and make progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. SDG 6 specifically seeks to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, but water touches on all of the goals in some way.

Achieving these goals will be complex and challenging, and require innovative solutions often built through collaboration. This new partnership will leverage IWA and TNC respective strengths to incorporate nature as a solution to protecting and securing water resources within cities and their surrounding environments. The new partnership will particularly focus on:

  • Connecting water utilities and cities with their basins by exploring how utilities and cities can influence catchment management;
  • Developing clear guidance for water and sanitation services to integrate nature-based solutions into their operations
  • Building the capacity of practitioners to use nature-based solutions in water management;
  • Supporting regulators to incorporate nature-based solutions for improved water security and safety.

Traditionally the water sector spending has been directed to “grey infrastructure”, such as reservoirs, aqueducts and treatment works. But research and experience has demonstrated that investing in “natural” infrastructure – the healthy forests, wetlands and river ecosystems from which water supply is sourced – can provide climate resilient and cost-effective solutions. TNC research indicates that four out of five cities can meaningfully reduce pollution through forest protection, pastureland reforestation and improved agricultural practices.

IWA members and staff are situated in 130 countries worldwide, forming the largest international network of water professionals working towards a water-wise world. IWA aims to inspire the global community of professionals concerned with water, external organisations and opinion leaders, by being the international reference and global source of knowledge, experience and leadership for sustainable urban and basin-related water solutions.

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. TNC invests to equip partners with the tools and capacity to promote source water protection, to build a track record of successful source water protection programs in priority geographies and promote enabling policy conditions for the incorporation of nature in water infrastructure spending.

Together the two organisations have a shared goal to mainstream natured-based solutions in water infrastructure planning and spending. The two organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia.

Andrea Erickson, Managing Director, Water Security, at TNC said:

“We know how nature can play a role in maintaining the quality of our water, cleaning and filtering water as it comes to our communities. Four out of five communities globally could actually benefit from source water protection activities like reforestation or working with agriculture or protecting forests.” Watch Andrea’s video here

Kala Vairavamoorthy, Executive Director, International Water Association, said:

“Nature-based solutions allow us to reimagine our water resources, and potentially provide cost-effective ways of managing drinking water and wastewater treatment. IWA’s network of water professionals are exploring and promoting innovative solutions that integrate nature to improve water security and quality, and which add value through additional ecosystem services.”