Scaling Up Payments and Investments in Watershed Services to Address the Global Water Crisis

Projekt abgeschlossen

The project is fostering a paradigm change that could transform the way the world’s watersheds are valued and managed: investing in natural infrastructure such as wetlands, streams and forests that can capture, filter, and store freshwater is emerging as one of the most cost-efficient way to secure clean water and recharge aquifers, making a key contribution to global water security. Indeed, according to the recent SDC-supported report on the Global State of Payment for Watershed Services, the number of such initiatives has now reached 10 billion USD annually as governments urgently seek sustainable alternatives to costly traditional infrastructure, from mega-cities such as New York and Beijing, to small villages in Bolivia.

Land/Region Thema Periode Budget
Einsparung von Wasserressourcen
01.01.2014 - 31.12.2016
CHF 4'750'000

Achieving sustainable water management is arguably one of the biggest challenges facing the world today. To meet post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the world will need massive amounts of new or upgraded water infrastructure. In addressing the water crisis we are presented with a significant opportunity to create sustainable solutions by more widely incorporating natural infrastructure approaches – this does not mean abandoning traditional ‘gray’ infrastructure but rather including natural infrastructure as an important part of the mix of sustainable approaches. The term investing in watershed services (IWS), includes a wide range of financial mechanisms – ranging from direct cash payments, to tradable credits, to technical assistance – all focused on providing incentives for investing in natural infrastructure for water. IWS also supports implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management as it requires taking a watershed approach, the engagement of broad stakeholder groups, and balancing the needs of multiple water users in a watershed.


The overall program vision is that the protection and/or restoration of healthy watersheds, through more widespread adoption of innovative financial mechanisms, such as payments and investments in watershed services (IWS), is contributing to addressing the global water crisis, providing reliable and clean water supplies, contributing to food security, and supporting livelihoods, particularly for poorer communities. Specifically, this project seeks to scale up IWS as a means of cost-effectively addressing water quality and quantity challenges in watersheds, providing co-benefits, and improving livelihoods.


For demonstration projects, country stakeholders at various levels (from farmers to Ministers) in Bolivia, Brazil, China, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, Peru. For building knowledge and capacity, government academia, NGOs, private sector. Societal awareness of the importance of natural infrastructure for water and the benefits of IWS is raised through more effective communication of IWS concepts and outcomes. Under phase 2 the project will particularly engage with key leaders in the water sector (urban leaders, water resource managers, developers of infrastructure – both funders and engineers) that are currently under-represented in the IWS community.

Mittelfristige Wirkungen

The project objective and purpose remain the same for Phase 2: To scale up payments and investments in watershed services (IWS), as a cost-effective means of addressing water quality and quantity challenges, providing co-benefits, and improving livelihoods. In Phase 2, the project will move to implementation steps for the demonstration projects, along with capturing the lessons learned from different models of scaling up IWS; building on and expanding the analytical products from Phase 1; and diversifying and more actively engaging the community of practice.


Resultate von früheren Phasen:  

Phase 1 has achieved significant outcomes in terms of actions on the ground to develop IWS projects in six countries, including initial stakeholder engagement and capacity building, along with conducting the feasibility assessments and initial planning for IWS implementation. The project in Bolivia began Phase 1 with just 561 hectares under conservation and has grown to more than 17,000 hectares. In Peru, a national Incubator for IWS projects has been established, and key legislation enabling IWS approved. In Brazil, the work helped to spur the creation of Rio de Janeiro’s environmental exchange (BVRio). In China, an actionable plan was endorsed to secure water supplies for Greater Beijing, and a network of up to 30 Chinese cities was created. The first set of analytical tools and resources was disseminated and implemented, including the State of Watershed Payment report launched at the World Bank in early 2013. The community of practice was launched through the new on-line resource portal (Watershed Connect), exchanges, and larger convenings such as Katoomba China.

Verantwortliche Direktion/Bundesamt DEZA
Kreditbereich Entwicklungszusammenarbeit
Projektpartner Vertragspartner
Internationale oder ausländische NGO
  • Andere internationale oder ausländische NGO Norden
  • Schweizerischer Privatsektor
  • Forest Trends and their local partners in target countries (government ministries, NGOs, private sector).

Budget Laufende Phase Schweizer Beitrag CHF   4'750'000 Bereits ausgegebenes Schweizer Budget CHF   4'549'140

Phase 2 01.01.2014 - 31.12.2016   (Completed)