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Water Funds: Attracting Investments to Protect Nature, People and Clean Water

The Nature Conservancy

Just one percent of the water on Earth is available fresh water that we can use to meet our needs – drinking, cooking, irrigating crops, manufacturing goods and much more. We all have a stake in protecting natural areas that clean it and deliver it to us via rivers and lakes. When forests, grasslands and other habitats are cleared away or degraded, our waterways lose natural filtration and regulation systems. Downstream that can mean water shortages, floods and higher costs of treating dirty water.

Protecting "green infrastructure" is a more cost-effective way to protect water than losing services that nature provides and facing the need for engineered solutions, such as more water treatment plants and dams. Additionally, healthy natural areas provide more benefits to more sectors of society, especially the rural poor who are less likely to benefit from water infrastructure than those in urban areas.

These financial considerations suggest untapped opportunities to further engage the private sector in watershed protection as well as government agencies responsible for supplying water to citizens.