Water for 50 Million
1 in 8 people in Latin America lack access to clean water.
One in eight people in Latin America lack access to clean drinking water—that’s more than 77 million people. The United Nations warns more than two-thirds of the global population could face water scarcity in the next 15 years. Protecting and restoring nature’s ability to provide the clean water that is crucial for our lives and our economic development can help turn the tide on clean water shortages around the world.
To help restore the natural systems that produce and filter water 50 million people across Latin America, a new public-private partnership has pledged $27 million dollars to restore 7 million acres of critical watersheds in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Mexico and other countries.
The Latin American Water Funds Partnership—launched by The Nature Conservancy, the FEMSA Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF)—shares a common vision for the future: preserving and restoring watersheds and helping protect important water supplies in the region.
The Latin American Water Funds Partnership is the world’s first initiative to engage the private and public sectors and civil society in a watershed conservation strategy pioneered by The Nature Conservancy called Water Funds.
Water Funds: Investing in nature for people
Forests and grasslands filter, clean, and keep water flows steady in watersheds across Latin America. But when those forests and grasslands are degraded or destroyed, they lose their ability to provide people up- and downstream with clean water.
A Water Fund is an innovative way to finance the protection and restoration of these forests and grasslands so that they can provide clean water to millions in cities and villages across Latin America. The Conservancy has pioneered the use of Water Funds in several Latin American cities, and the impacts have already been enormous.
Since a healthy watershed minimizes water treatment costs, Water Funds attract contributions from large water users downstream, like water utility companies, hydroelectric companies, and beverage companies. Revenue from these Water Funds is then directed to preserve key lands upstream that filter and regulate the water supply. Water Funds also create incentives and help finance sustainable economic development opportunities to benefit local communities.
The Latin American Water Funds Partnership will create, implement and capitalize Water Funds around the region, resulting in at least 32 functioning Water Funds in total in 5 years.
The Nature Conservancy has demonstrated to its peers in the Latin American Water Funds Partnership that the Water Funds model works.
In 2000, The Nature Conservancy joined with local partners in the public and private sectors to create the first Water Fund in Quito, Ecuador. The project started with an investment of $21,000 and grew to $10 million in just a decade. Nowadays, every year, nearly $1 million from the Quito Water Fund is invested in protecting the forests and grasslands of the watersheds that supply Quito’s two million residents with clean water. The Conservancy has also launched successful Water Funds in El Valle del Cauca Colombia, São Paulo, Brazil and Lima, Peru, among other cities.