The choices we make today, and how we decide to manage our resources moving forward, will have long-term implications for nature and for people. This does not mean that we have to choose nature or people. The Nature Conservancy is committed to finding solutions that enable people and nature to thrive together—a world where we take care of nature so that nature can take care of us.
This report outlines a solution for managing scarce global water resources in a way that helps us meet the needs of people and nature. Today, irrigated agriculture accounts for a significant amount of our water consumption. If we can find ways to save just a small percentage of the water used on farms, it will free up a great volume of water that can be used for other purposes, including restoring depleted rivers and lakes. We believe that when water markets are paired with creative financial solutions, we can help provide a more water-secure future for cities, agriculture, industries and nature.
As described in the report, our new concept, Water Sharing Investment Partnerships, operate within existing water markets, using investor capital and other revenue sources to acquire water-use rights. These rights can be deployed to depleted freshwater ecosystems, or sold or leased to other water users seeking more supplies, thereby generating financial returns for investors. The Conservancy, through a partnership between its Water, Australia and NatureVest teams, has already applied this concept in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin. While we will be using it as a model for future endeavors, we will also be looking at other creative financial solutions that best fit local needs and circumstances.