The Nature Conservancy and International Water Association Sign MOU at World Water Forum

Brasilia | March 23, 2018

The International Water Association (IWA) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are partnering to help municipalities and utilities 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. Under the United Nations’ Agenda for Sustainable Development, Sustainable Development Goal 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.

“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,” said Andrea Erickson, The Nature Conservancy’s managing director for water security. “Four out of five communities globally could actually benefit from source water protection activities like reforestation or working with agriculture or protecting forests.”

Achieving these goals will be complex and challenging, and require innovative solutions often built through collaboration. This new partnership will leverage IWA and The Nature Conservancy 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 “gray 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. The Nature Conservancy research indicates that four out of five cities can meaningfully reduce pollution through forest protection, pastureland reforestation, and improved agricultural practices.

“Nature-based solutions allow us to reimagine our water resources, and potentially provide cost-effective ways of managing drinking water and wastewater treatment,” said Kala Vairavamoorthy, IWA’s executive director. “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.”

About IWA
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 organizations and opinion leaders, by being the international reference and global source of knowledge, experience and leadership for sustainable urban and basin-related water solutions. More information

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Ciaran Clayton
+1 (703) 841-4253


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