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Water funds in Latin America – ClimateWIse

UHERO’s Project Environment is part of a 3-year international collaboration, ClimateWIse,
which seeks to understand the hydrological and related well-being outcomes of water funds in
Latin America. Funded through the Belmont Forum, this project brings together researchers
from the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University, the University of Minnesota, the
University of North Texas, the University of São Paulo, and the University of Kassel as well as
NGOs (including The Natue Conservancy) and water funds across Latin America. Water funds
are a type of investment in watershed service program where downstream water users,
governments, and NGOs pool resources to fund watershed conservation, restoration, and
sustainable management activities in source watersheds. While these programs are growing in
popularity around the world, and particularly in Latin America, links between land use and
hydrological outcomes remain poorly understood, particularly in a context of climate change.
ClimateWIse aims close an important knowledge gap by assessing the impact of land-use and
climate change on water resources in montane tropical South America. In this region,
hydrologic impacts of changing land use and changing climate are poorly characterized yet have
tremendous impact on water security for both urban and rural communities. Millions of people
depend on water from páramo grasslands and Andean and Atlantic forests, so it is critical to
ensure clean, secure water through climate-resilient source water protection.
ClimateWIse is working closely with a network of water funds in Perú, Ecuador, and Colombia,
and with water producer projects (a similar type of program) in Brazil, providing an unparalleled
opportunity to assess and model current and future water resources in the region. The project
focuses on answering two main questions: 1) Are water funds successfully delivering water
services now? 2) How can water funds be climate resilient?
To quantify the impact of land-use change on water resources and thereby assess current IWS
performance, we have structured the project into six interconnected parts. ClimateWIse is 1.1)
evaluating the outcomes expected by water fund stakeholders; 1.2) compiling and analyzing
water fund monitoring data; and 1.3) improving modeled predictions of land-use change
impacts on water. To quantify the impact of climate change on water resources and thereby
assess and inform IWS climate resilience, ClimateWIse will 2.1) evaluate how water funds
incorporate climate in their planning; 2.2) produce regional downscaled climate data and
improve robustness and uncertainty assessment of climate-change impact predictions; and 2.3)
integrate findings to inform water fund planning. ClimateWIse will assess drivers of change
across scales, both spatially (from local to global with SWAT, InVEST, and WaterGAP3) and
temporally (evaluating current and future climate).
Our goals are to enhance sustainable water management by improving understanding of the
hydrologic impacts of land-use and climate change in the montane tropics, increase the
scientific foundation for ecosystem services-based management, and enhance outcomes for
water users throughout the region.


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