Watershared initiative launches ambitious goal to conserve upstream water sources in Andean region

A new conservation initiative, based partially on ESPA-funded research, aims to protect a quarter of the Colombian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian and Bolivian forests that are important for supplying water by 2025. Watershared, led by more than 125 municipal and regional governments, was announced in December last year at the Paris Global Landscapes Forum, a side event to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

Based on the Reciprocal Watershed Agreements concept studied by ESPA researchers in Bolivia, Watershared is an integrated adaptation, mitigation and development model that has been adopted by cities and towns across the Andes. It protects old growth forests and their water sources, increases knowledge about climate change and provides economic alternatives to rain-fed agriculture through fruit tree seedlings, beehives and irrigation systems.

The initiative deploys three main tactics:

  • Municipal Water Funds: local institutions finance adaptation and mitigation
  • Reciprocal Watershed Agreements: reciprocity-based incentives for private and community led conservation
  • Protected Area Creation: locally managed protection of upstream water factories

The launch of this initiative signals an important step for the towns and cities involved. Protection of the forests is widely accepted to be instrumental to the region’s economic success, while project benefits will also contribute to global efforts to address climate change.

The Watershared initiative is being coordinated by Nigel Asquith, Director of the Natura Bolivia Foundation.

Find out more about his research for ESPA.

Find out more about Watershared.