BOGOTÁ, Colombia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Water Coalition for Colombia, which includes more than 300 partners from various sectors of government, industry, the financial sector, civil society, and non-governmental organizations, co-led by the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia, Ricardo Lozano, and the President of Andesco (National Association of Public Services and Communications Companies), Camilo Sánchez, had its first meeting at the Casa Medina hotel, in Bogotá, Colombia, yesterday. The event was promoted by the Latin American Water Funds Partnership and the Latin America Conservation Council (LACC) and coordinated by the environmental organization The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
Latin America is abundant in water (1/3 of the world's fresh water), but it is unevenly distributed and 36% of Latin America is under water stress. Most of the areas that provide drinking water to cities are also important areas for biodiversity. Unfortunately, these areas are threatened by deforestation or habitat degradation due to the expansion of agricultural and pastoral practices, and infrastructure development. Climate change aggravates the risks of water scarcity, encourages water of poor quality and causes floods; at the same time, deforestation intensifies climate change creating a vicious cycle. In addition, in the last 15 years, the urban population in the region has grown by 21%. Given that almost 80% of the population lives in urban areas, Latin America is the most urbanized region of the world (UN-Habitat). This puts a lot of pressure on water resources for human consumption, food and energy production, among other uses.
With the objective of promoting water security and the development of Latin American cities, TNC with the support of its strategic partners such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), FEMSA Foundation and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has promoted 24 Water Funds in Latin America over 18 years, a model based on science, that seeks to reconcile both interests. The Water Funds channel public and private resources towards scientifically-proven and successful strategic conservation projects, in addition to promoting public policies that help improve water governance. The protection of strategic ecosystems improves water security for nature, people and the economy. "Ensuring a clean and sustainable water supply for our growing cities is the most critical challenge in the region. The business case is clear: investing in nature to strengthen water security, especially in our larger metropolitan areas", says Juan Pablo del Valle, Co-Chair of the LACC.
Based on this successful experience, TNC, the Latin American Water Funds Partnership and the Latin America Conservation Council announced the creation of the Water Coalition for Colombia, a national accelerator of Water Funds, which seeks to strengthen the governance of the water resource, strengthen the existing Water Funds and promote the implementation of other Water Funds in the country. There are currently seven Water Funds in Colombia, and a total of fifteen Water Funds are planned by 2022 in the following cities: Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cali, Cartagena, Cravo Sur, Cúcuta, Ibagué, Neiva, Manizales, Medellín, Pasto, Santa Marta & Ciénega, Valledupar, Valle del Cauca and Villavicencio, which together represent 48% of the national GDP and 43% of the country's population.
The Water Coalition for Colombia also marks the creation of the first pilot of the National Accelerator of Water Funds in the world, an ambitious project supported by six strategic pillars:
- Science, to model scenarios and estimate the benefits of innovative solutions;
- Technology and innovation, for the management of water resources, early warning systems, monitoring of impact indicators;
- Public policies to define the necessary regulatory and legal modifications;
- Engagement of the private sector, to encourage investment in water security and the promotion of green or natural infrastructure;
- Financial innovation, to develop a financial market to face the challenges of water security;
- Marketing and communications strategies that allow fostering a fruitful dialogue with communities about the vital importance of water resource management for our social and economic development.
By 2020, the creation of five National Accelerators of Water Funds in other countries of the region is contemplated. "With the experience and achievements obtained with the Water Funds, we are ready to take a step forward. The Water Fund Accelerator will generate positive changes in the system that will catalyze the implementation of Water Funds worldwide. Through the Water Funds and its Accelerator, TNC brings together the efforts of various public and private actors to work with a common and systemic vision”, highlights Santiago Gowland, TNC´s Vice-President for Latin America.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC): 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 www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.