de la Alianza Latinoamericana de Fondos de Agua
Red de Fondos de América Latina de la Alianza Latinoamericana de Fondos de Agua
Water Funds Training By offering a best practices approach, a key goal of the Water Funds Training is to build the capacity of local and regional Water Funds practitioners to scope, design, create, operate, and monitor Water Funds. © Kevin Arnold

This tool has been designed by professionals who work in the design and creation of Water Funds with the aim to be used by other professionals in the Water Funds community. This Toolbox compiles the best practices found at the global level in order to design and create Water Funds. The Toolbox is not a static web product. It is an iterative knowledge repository that will help local, regional and global actors explore and define whether the Water Funds model is pertinent. The Toolbox has been created on the basis of key publications such as the “Water Funds Manual” (2012), as well as the Desired State methodology developed by the Latin American Alliance Water Funds Partnership, and it was subsequently both tested in the field and enhanced and launched in the new website (2018).

For more information:

Water Funds Training

The Water Funds Training has been developed by experts in adult-learning. Although the Toolbox works as a complete knowledge library, the digital training platform provides a "deep immersion" into the Water Funds development process step by step, prepared by experts in relevant aspects of the Water Funds model and curricula. Such training platform brought together Water Funds professionals from key geographies where TNC has experience in Water Funds development, including Asia Pacific, Africa, Latin America and North America, in order to design the overall training program. The training offers components such as online and face-to-face workshops, which are mutually complementary and reinforcing, including the "Toolbox". The training was initially designed by the end of 2016 and then it was tested in the field during 2017 and 2018. In this platform, a series of improvements, including new content related to the new methodology, have been incorporated.

For more information:

a young man smiles
Water governance diagnosis How could Water Funds address water scarcity? © Alexandro Abbadie Auler/TNC Photo Contest 2019

Water Governance Diagnosis

The responsibility of managing Water in a sustainable manner belongs to the entire community, the civil society, the government and the private sector. In order to achieve this, it is essential to articulate a shared vision and a system of efficient decisions based on science, which promote and trigger coordinated collective action.

This document represents the effort of FEMSA Foundation to strengthen water governance, one of the basic foundations to build a resilient system that can timely face challenges in the present and the future. With the help from the School of Government and Public Transformation and guided, to a large extent, by the Water Governance Principles of the OECD, FEMSA has developed a tool that generates a diagnosis and provides a quick, pragmatic understanding of water governance.

Despite the fact that it is intended to be applied in any geography, this piece of work shows the case of Nuevo León. We do hope it will be useful for all the people who devote their lives to achieve and maintain a state of water security, and that it will be the beginning of an open dialog and collaborative work with any organizations that seek similar objectives.


The Quito Water Fund, also known as FONAG, protects watersheds supplying the capital’s 2 million people with 80 percent of their freshwater, Quito, Ecuador.  The project, which began in 2000, receives monthly contributions from Quito’s water and electric companies to produce nearly  million each year in disbursements for conservation projects in the surrounding watersheds.
Science for Nature and People Partnershi Teams include academic experts in scientific fields directly relevant to the key questions, representatives of governments, multilateral institutions, and the private sector, practitioners from conservation, humanitarian, sustainable development, cultural, and spiritual organizations. © Erika Nortemann/TNC


Hydro-IDB is a simulation tool created by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to support water resources management and planning in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. By means of this tool, the IDB is working together with regional and local water utilities companies to learn more about their challenges in water management and be able to provide them with a better support and training. Hydro-IDB is currently being tested in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Haiti.

The Hydro-IDB intervention areas are: calculations of water balance and flows at regional watershed or sub-watershed levels; climate change effects forecasting on water resources availability and variability; water resources management plans development, and flood and drought risks management.

For more information:



River Basin Information System (RBIS) is a free software platform to organize and analyze proprietary information on comprehensive watershed management projects . Developed by the University of Jena in Germany, since the year 2016, it has been adopted and improved by the Latin American Water Funds Partnership as the recommended tool to manage information in the Water Funds design and operation stages. To date, 11 RBIS platforms have been implemented, managed by The Nature Conservancy in Latin America and Africa, which support work teams of 16 Water Funds. These platforms compile information on the design and monitoring efforts in these Water Funds, adding meteorological, hydrological and geospatial data from multiple researchers and organizations involved in these Water Funds, making each RBIS become the focal point to access the information necessary to understand the current state of the watersheds where we work and the impacts from our projects.

For more information on RBIS, visit this publication:


ITT/TNC SmartSense monitoring equipment

Since 2017, we have been working with the Institute for Natural Resources Management and Technology in the Tropics of the University of Cologne in Germany (ITT-TH Koln) in the development of monitoring technologies for environmental impacts on low-cost Water Funds. Based on the wide offer of low-cost sensors, derived from the Internet of Things (IoT) field, work has been done on the development of low-cost monitoring equipment and customization according to water needs in order to measure variables. Initially, these sensors have the potential to capture meteorological, hydrometric and vegetation data. This technology package is designed to be automatically compatible with RBIS that are already operational in 16 Water Funds, thus constituting an integrated software and hardware solution tailored to our projects.

For more information:

Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP): 

SNAPP is the nature and people partnership that involves more than 450 institutions and 1,000 experts from nearly 60 countries in 36 teams of scientists and stakeholders since 2013. A SNAPP team is a multidisciplinary group of experts representing a wide range of sectors, institutions and specialties that otherwise would not meet around a complex, specific challenge.

The teams include: academic experts in scientific fields directly relevant to key questions, representatives from governments, multilateral institutions and the private sector, practitioners from conservation, humanitarian, sustainable development, cultural and spiritual organizations. To date, these teams have produced more than 330 tools and other products of "science applied to the solution", which include more than 80 documents reviewed in pairs, and at least eight derivative initiatives have emerged from their work. SNAPP teams are working to find solutions to critical challenges such as: food water and nature security, nature-based solutions, and nature value.

For more information:}

Within this Partnership, it is worth mentioning two relevant water resources management and conservation tools:

This interactive panel allows key stakeholders, such as the Latin American Conservation Council and the Inter-American Development Bank, to explore urban water sources risks and beneficial conservation efforts. The tool provides population metrics, water amount flood mitigation, water quality riparian restoration, and reforestation. Resulting analysis and comparisons will help policymakers assess the strengths and limitations of watershed management strategies in major cities in Latin America. Out of all the cities included in the dashboard, the city of Bucaramanga had the highest return on investment (ROI), a potential for watersheds conservation.

For more information:

  • Mapping Tool for Water Conservation

    This tool will rapidly measure the potential of five common watersheds conservation activities to reduce sediments and nutrients contamination in a watershed of origin. This tool describes, for each watershed of origin, its land coverage, and it estimates its pollutants load. It also calculates, for each watershed, the conservation effort amount (in area or cost), necessary to achieve a 1%, 5%, 10%, and 20% contamination reduction.

  • For more information:


Natural Capital Project

NatCap is a partnership of four world-class academic institutions (Stanford University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Minnesota, and the Stockholm Resilience Center) that promotes new science; it is inspired and implemented through two of the largest NGOs in the world, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). We are working with other key collaborators for our science to report directly to decisionmakers.

The Partnership has an iterative commitment focused on a dialog with stakeholders in order to understand their needs; therefore, the tools it develops are relevant immediately and may be incorporated into the decision-making process. It works on a wide range of locations and sectors, developing nature- based solutions for issues as variable as climate change impacts, impact assessment reports, decision-making for loans in Latin America to invest in mobilization, forest restoration investment guidance. Besides developing evidence of the power of natural capital approaches to transform decisions, it creates software (now downloaded in 160 countries), it develops capacity through learning and training exchanges, and it involves leaders to accelerate adoption and magnify success impact to date.

For more information:

Within this Partnership, it is relevant to mention two relevant water resources management tools:

InVEST is a suite of free, open-source software models used to map and value the goods and services from nature that sustain and fulfill human life. InVEST enables decision makers to assess quantified tradeoffs associated with alternative management choices and to identify areas where investment in natural capital can enhance human development and conservation.  The toolset currently includes eighteen distinct ecosystem service models designed for terrestrial, freshwater, marine, and coastal ecosystems, as well as a number of “helper tools” to assist with locating and processing input data and with understanding and visualizing outputs.​

Within the InVEST tool, it is relevant to mention four models that address water security:

  • Reservoir Hydropower Production (Water Yield)

The Water Reservoir Hydroelectric Energy Production model called InVEST (also known as the "Water Performance Model") estimates the average annual water amount produced by a watershed. The economic model then estimates the water performance value for the reservoir hydroelectric energy production. It calculates the relative contribution of each land plot to the average annual water performance and hydroelectric energy production, and it values this contribution in terms of energy production and calculates the net present value of hydroelectric energy production during the reservoir useful life. Spatially explicit outputs of relative water performance can identify areas that contribute the most to the hydroelectric energy value and report on how landscape changes will alter that contribution.

User Guide:


  • Sediment Retention

The sediment retention model, called InVEST, estimates a land plot capacity to retain sediments through the use of information on geomorphology, climate, vegetation cover and handling practices. The estimated soil loss in a land plot and the sediment transportation report on the service step of the InVEST model, which produces results in terms of prevented sedimentation. The model can also assess the landscape in terms of water quality preservation or prevent the reservoir sedimentation, and it determines how land-use changes may affect the sediment-removal cost.

User Guide:

  • Water Purification

The InVEST Nutrient Delivery Ratio model maps nutrient sources of watersheds and their transportation into the current. This spatial information may be used to evaluate the nutrient retention service by means of natural vegetation. The model results can report on conservation efforts by targeting soil and vegetation areas that clean more effectively the water supply for people and aquatic life.

User Guide:

We are creating a data and models platform called Urban InVEST that provides information and analyses to developers, lenders, municipal governments, consultants and advocacy groups. This platform presents spatially-explicit biophysical and socioeconomic models that allow users to quantify and map impacts from alternative urban designs in multiple urban ecosystem services (for example, urban water management, heat islands mitigation, mental health benefits), which show the benefits and costs for communities per socioeconomic status and vulnerability degrees.

For more information:


RIOS supports watershed services cost-effective investments design. The Resource Investment Optimization System (RIOS) provides a standardized approach based on watershed management science in contexts around the world. It combines biophysical, social and economic data to help users identify the best places for protection and restoration activities in order to maximize the investment environmental performance, within the limits of what is socially and politically feasible. 

For more information:



Volunteers and employees of The Nature Conservancy of Wyoming participate in the annual Butterfly Blitz at the Conservancy's Red Canyon Ranch, an opportunity to collect and document Wyoming’s beautiful butterflies. Image size: 6.6 by 10 inches at 300 dpi. Photo credit: © Kerry Brophy Lloyd/TNC
Guia Documents The purpose of these documents is to help people work in the Water Funds. © Kerry Brophy Lloyd/TNC

  • Opportunities to achieve long-term financing for natural infrastructure and water security in Latin America. 

    The report shows the results of a comparative analysis conducted for five countries in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico) to identify opportunities to obtain long-term public resources to invest in natural infrastructure in order to improve water security. 

    The study was conducted from a homogeneous analytical framework that was applied in all countries through interviews and documentary research. The results of the analysis are aggregated by country and these are compared to identify where the most favorable conditions exist to access these resources.

    The main results that can be found in the report are: 

    Reports for each of the five countries, which describe the current public policies, the main actors and the framework for public financing related to watershed management and the protection of water sources;

    An evaluation to establish opportunities to access resources based on the following elements: existence of a political leader in the subject matter; political opportunity; presence of a support coalition; level of understanding and political support regarding the specific issue; which are the most viable funding sources; what are the main barriers faced in each country.

    For more information contact Hugo Contreras:
    Relevant links:

    Feasibility evaluation: how could Water Funds address water scarcity?

    The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the University of Oxford have established a three-year partnership to develop, test and extend incentives for the sustainable use of water, including the development of water transactions and profitable investment in the efficiency of water use. Water. The Oxford team will partner with TNC to assess the feasibility of sharing scarce water supplies through agricultural, urban and environmental needs, and identify the role of the Water Fund in addressing competition.

    The partners will evaluate the available data regarding the key factors, barriers and enabling conditions for:

    1. Mapping the system: select the city of interest with partners and define the hydrological and infrastructure systems that connect with the agricultural areas.

    2.Estimate spatial water budgets: current and projected regional water budgets at the highest possible spatial and temporal resolution.

    3.Compare the value of water: the economic value of water in its current uses according to the marginal productivity of water in different uses and different geographical regions.

    4.Evaluate the potential for the distribution of benefits: Identification of the technical potential and economic benefits and beneficiaries of irrigation efficiency.

    5.Evaluate enabling conditions and limiting factors: assess key enabling conditions and limiting factors, including infrastructure, government, financing and monitoring requirements.

    For more information, contact Hugo Contreras:


    Tools In Process

    Water Funds Application

  • The Nature Conservancy is exploring the creation of a web-based open-source tool that will determine if there are water-treatment cost savings in order to invest in green infrastructure within a particular geographical area. The return on investment analysis completed by the tool is within the scope of a Water Fund pre-feasibility assessment. The tool is expected to use cloud-based data to run a series of hydrological models pre-filled with global data sets and global assumptions and, at the same time, offer users the possibility to customize their own data input.

  • The goal is to perform pre-feasibility assessments, which are fundamental to involve leaders and decisionmakers, that are available at the earliest stage and at the lowest cost possible, and specific for the geographical area in question. With this information at hand, and supported by powerful visual elements, The Nature Conservancy believes to be largely unlocking the lack of political will and the funding necessary to escalate Water Funds worldwide.

    Groundwater Tool

  • Together with the Institute for Natural Resources Management and Technology in the Tropics of the University of Cologne in Germany (ITT-TH Koln) and the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí (UASLP), the preparation of an Analysis Framework to Assess Nature-Based Solutions Potential to Contribute to Hydrogeological Resources or Groundwater was started. Considering the number of cities and states that substantially depend on this type water resources and that wish to explore Water Funds potential as a complementary strategy to improve their Water Security, the Latin American Water Funds Partnership has decided to prepare a guidance material that allows to assess these opportunities and design projects that respond to these challenges.

  • The ongoing study will generate an analysis framework that will allow to identify the relevant information and the logical process to address Water Funds project design, where groundwater resources are the main supply source. This study includes preparation of two pilot cases, one in Guatemala City and the other one in Mexico City, where this Analysis Framework, focused on nature-based solutions investment decision-making, will be applied.

    GoFor Unassisted Revegetation Assessment Tool (TNC-NatCAP)

  • Together with the Tropical Silviculture Laboratory at the University of Sao Paulo (LASTROP ESALQ USP), the International Sustainability Institute (IIS RJ) and the Natural Capital Project (University of Stanford, University of Minnesota, the WWF, and The Nature Conservancy), the free-software tool for the analysis of uncertainty in natural regeneration processes in tropical areas, called GoFor, was created. Natural regeneration is the process through which degraded or transformed areas in watersheds are restored in natural ecosystems areas that increase the hydrological ecosystem services offer, through favoring natural processes that accelerate the recovery in these areas.

  • Even though the activities based on these natural processes are most frequently implemented in Water Funds in Latin America, due to their high cost-effective feature, accurately identifying the places where these activities are most likely to succeed is not an easy task. Complicated ecological processes related to source-sink dynamics and population dynamics that occur during the natural restoration process must be considered to ensure the highest return on investment and prompt response of the system to investments in the field. Based on the analysis of success in the restoration of more than 300 plots of natural regeneration in tropical areas around the world, a software tool (application or app) has been created, and this tool allows to assess, based on the remaining natural coverages matrix size, shape and configuration , the ideal places to implement this type of activities with the least uncertainty possible.

    Existing Technical Documents:
  • Protection of water sources and climate adaptation, the role of water funds.

  • Assessing the Return on Investment in Watershed Conservation Best Practices Approach and Case Study for the Rio Camboriú PWS Program, Santa Catarina, Brazil

  • Natural Infrastructure for Water of the Guandu System, Rio de Janeiro

  • Natural infrastructure in São Paulo’s Water System

  • Water Security in Monterrey Metropolitan Area and the Río Pánuco Basin

  • The Greater Cape Town Water Fund Assessing the Return on Investment for Ecological Infrastructure Restoration Business Case

  • Upper Tana-Nairobi Water Fund Innovation at the Nexus of Water, Food, Energy, and Business

  • A Primer for Monitoring Water Funds  The purpose of this document is to help people working in the Water Funds understand their information needs and become familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the different monitoring approaches. Here, critical information needs common to Water Fund projects are highlighted, summarizing issues and steps to follow in developing a monitoring program for a Water Funds.

  • Beyond the source Healthy watersheds are vital natural infrastructure for cities around the world as they capture, store, and filter water. They also provide benefits for the conservation of biodiversity, adaptation, and mitigation against climate change and human health and well-being. However, 40% of areas around river watersheds show significant levels of degradation. Protecting and restoring the natural infrastructure of the watersheds can directly improve the quality and amount of water available.

  • Urban water blueprint. This study examines the state of water in more than 500 cities around the world and reveals that nature has enormous potential to improve water quality for towns. Cities could potentially save $890 million a year in water treatment costs by investing in nature-based solutions in their watersheds, such as reforestation, wetlands, cover crops, etc.


INNOVATIONAL PROJECTS TNC and its Latin American partners seek to establish new national water coalitions in the region to scale their positive impact. © Mariana Alejandra Moscoso

Blue energy Project

Nature can provide sustainable self-financing solutions to water sedimentation and regulation problems that affect the hydroelectric power sector in watersheds where their assets are located.

Conservation International (“CI”) and The Nature Conservancy (“TNC”) innovate by structuring a success payment model that will benefit both the hydroelectric power companies and Nature. In this model, inspired by Project Finance structures, hydroelectric power companies pay for ecosystem services only once these are materialized. The goal is to reduce their financial risk and involve them more effectively in conservation programs.

CI and TNC are currently selecting 3 pilots in Latin America to test the Nature’s Blue Energy project concept and replicate it at a larger level. In order to pay for the pilots development cost, both institutions have obtained 1 million dollars from their own funding or international institutions such as IDB, IMF and NDF.


Initiative developed by:


La naturaleza puede aportar soluciones sostenibles y autofinanciadas a los problemas de sedimentación y regulación del agua que afectan al sector hidroeléctrico en las cuencas hidrográficas donde se encuentran sus activos.
Proyecto Blue energy La naturaleza puede aportar soluciones sostenibles y autofinanciadas a los problemas de sedimentación y regulación del agua que afectan al sector hidroeléctrico en las cuencas hidrográficas donde se encuentran sus activos.

Water for Colombia Coalition

The Nature Conservancy, with support from the Latin America Water Funds Partnership and the Latin America Conservation Council, an extraordinary association of multiple stakeholders was started in Colombia in 2018, which objective is to eliminate national barriers and promote innovations to address existing challenges to water resources management through systemic solutions. The Water "Coalition" for Colombia is unique in its strength among high-level members and multidisciplinary scope. It is led by the Ministry of the Environment of Colombia, ANDESCO (National Association of Public Utilities and Telecommunications), and The Nature Conservancy. To date, the Coalition has brought together more than 40 leaders from the private sectors, ministries, and the most relevant governmental organizations, besides national and international organizations, and academia. 

The Coalition is structured in six collaborative thematic work groups: (1) Public Policy, (2) Corporate Standards, (3) Innovative Finance, (4) Marketing and Communications, (5) Technology and Innovation, and (6) Science and Conservation. Through these work groups, the Coalition strives to execute multiple initiatives to eliminate national barriers, promote behavior change and innovation, and facilitate resources flow for Water Security projects, including the creation of 8 New Water Funds (in addition to the existing 7 Water Funds) until 2022. Overall, the 15 Water Funds impact regions where 48% the national GDP is generated, and out of which 43% are Colombians. TNC and its Latin American members seek to establish new National Water Coalitions in the region, in order to escalate their positive impact. As part of this effort, there is a Playbook, which formalizes the process that currently takes place in Colombia to capture all learnings and knowledge generated. The Playbook consists of a practical guide and several complementary tools intended to help others configure and manage a national coalition of multiple stakeholders successfully.

Technical Documents In Process

  • Opportunities to obtain long-term financing for natural infrastructure and water security in Latin America.

The report shows the results from a benchmark carried out for five countries in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico) to identify opportunities to obtain long-term public resources in order to invest in natural infrastructure to improve water security.

The study was carried out on the basis of a homogeneous analytical framework that was applied in all countries through interviews and documentary research. The analysis results are added per country, and they are compared to identify the places where there are the most favorable conditions to access these resources.

The main results to be found in the report are:

  • Reports for each of the five countries, describing current public policies, main actors and the framework for public financing related to watershed management and water sources protection;

  • An assessment to establish the opportunities to access resources based on the following elements: existence of a political actor with leadership in the topic; political opportunity; presence of a supporting coalition; understanding level and political support to the topic; what the most feasible-access funding sources are, and what the main barriers are.

For more information or access to the full report, please contact Hugo Contreras at

Relevant Links:


  • Feasibility Assessment: How Water Funds Can Address Water Scarcity

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the University of Oxford have established a three-year partnership to develop, test and expand incentives for sustainable water use, including water transactions development and profitable investment in water use efficiency. The Oxford team will partner with TNC to assess the feasibility to share scarce water supplies through agricultural, urban and environmental needs, and identify the Water Fund role to address competition.

The partners will assess available data with regard to key factors, barriers and favorable conditions to:

  1. Map the System: select, together with the partners, the City of interest and define the hydrological systems and infrastructure that are connected to agricultural areas.

  2. Estimate Spatial Water Budgets: current and projected regional water budgets in the highest spatial and temporal resolution possible.

  3. Compare Water Value: water economic value in its current uses according to water marginal productivity in diverse uses and geographical regions.

  4. Assess Benefits Distribution Potential: identification of technical potential and economic benefits and irrigation efficiency beneficiaries.

  5. Assess Enabling Conditions and Limiting Factors: assess key enabling conditions and limiting factors, including infrastructure, government, financing and monitoring requirements.

For more information: contact Hugo Contreras at