Volcán Santiaguito
A glass sphere Volcán Santiaguito © José Daniel Calbac Castro/TNC Photo Contest 2019

The Water Funds

Water Funds emerged as a local response to the challenge of water security from a vision mainly focused on the conservation aspects of watersheds.

The pioneering experience of the Water Funds began in the high Andean wetlands, an ecosystem that harbors many threatened animal species. These wetlands are also essential water sources for cities such as Quito, Ecuador. In the year 2000, TNC and the Municipal Drinking Water Company of the City of Quito (EMAPS) realized that the degree of deterioration of the wetlands put the city's water supply at risk. That concern motivated the creation of the first Water Fund.

Other cities were inspired, such as Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo, in Brazil; Bogota, in Colombia and Paute and Tunguragua, in Ecuador to adopt this model. The creation of the Latin American Water Funds Partnership in 2011 provided seed capital and technical assistance fundamental for the systematization of the methodology, its refinement and the expansion that we can see in the region today.

Abajo, Bogotá se extiende bajo las bellas montañas que rodean la ciudad y que filtran naturalmente el agua que bebe.
The Muisca City: Bogotá, Colombia Bogotá extends under the beautiful mountains of the eastern range of the Andes, which surround the city and naturally filter the water that its more than 9 million residents drink. © Carlos Villalon

Throughout this time, the definition and scope of actions of Water Funds has been transformed and expanded in order to contribute more broadly to the water security of Latin American cities.

Water Funds are organizations that design and promote financial and governance mechanisms, engaging public, private, and civil society stakeholders in order to contribute to water security through solutions grounded on nature-based infrastructure and sustainable management of watersheds.

Currently, the pioneering model in Latin America has been successfully implemented in many countries, from the United States to China and Africa.

Water Funds are organizations that contribute to the better governance of water resources; once key stakeholders for good water management have been identified in a watershed area, the Water Fund approaches them and generates the necessary dialogue conditions, sometimes functioning as the bridge between the different sectors.

Water Funds offer scientific information for the identification and prioritization of the challenges to be solved, so that decision making is based on science and incorporate the different visions and possible solutions to contribute in the best way to ensure the water security of cities.

What are Water Funds? This video briefly describes how human activities can interfere with the water cycle from different areas, creating important water security challenges for cities and how the Water Funds contribute to the solution.
Descriptive image of Water Funds This infographic represents the different ways in which Water Funds contribute to the water security of their communities and cities based on the central definition of Water Funds.

Water Funds can provide multiple solutions to the Water Security challenges of Latin American cities depending on the challenges and particular characteristics of each place, implementing various nature-based solutions, among others.

Water funds created:

Currently in Latin America there are 24 Water Funds created. Throughout this time we have combined experience and knowledge that has allowed us to systematize and improve methodologies and support tools that we can share today for the creation of new Water Funds, either directly, or through third parties and other platforms. Always with the objective of contributing to the water security of Latin American cities.

Water funds in the process of creation:

Before creating a new Water Fund, it is necessary to carry out an analysis to identify if its creation is indeed necessary and opportune, based on various special considerations that are included in the methodology. These are very important stages prior to the creation of Water Funds.

We are currently working on the feasibility and design stages of 15 possible new Water Funds.

In what cities are the Water Funds working?

Visit our interactive map here.