The PRO-Agua ProjectUsing integrated watershed management for resilient development in Latin America
Land management practices in the Amazon have severely impacted natural forests and settlements over the last decade. Unplanned developments are rapidly expanding in urban centers like Puerto Maldonado (Peru) and Rio Branco (Brazil) and surrounding rural communities, leading to deforestation and compounding the effects of severe floods and droughts. These watersheds then experience expanded threats to the public and tourism from lack of planning, including low water quality, increased flooding, and increased risk of mosquito-borne diseases like zika and dengue.
“We are taking stock of the natural capital that supports our water supplies, as well as the built and human capital of each supplier, so that we can identify opportunities to improve sustainability of our systems.”
Natural Capital Project Collaborator
Agronomist and Master in Public Administration
A growing number of influential urban networks and partners—TNC’s Global Cities program, the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities or 100RC, ICLEI, C40, and others—have embraced the protection and restoration benefits of natural infrastructure as a means to promote more sustainable and livable cities. We are establishing partnerships to co-produce innovative approaches, policies and financial mechanisms with practitioners across local, regional, and global scales that explore nature-based urban solutions and promote sustainable, livable cities. Our pilot projects are in the U.S. and in China and we are working with partners to learn from other geographies (in particular in the Global South).
PRO-Agua (Resilience and Land Use Planning for Water) is a two year project, in tandem with local collaborators from states in Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru in the southeast Amazon. Our focus is on integrating green infrastructure into watershed management through science and technology, capacity building, empowering leaders, and more. By increasing the connection between communities and natural systems we aim to support local priorities like securing development, clean water, biodiversity, mitigated flood or drought risk, climate change resilience, and human well-being.
Protecting biodiversity, public health, and tourism benefits requires sustaining community practice. The knowledge and tools developed with PRO-Agua are meant to both support the case for integrated “green” watershed management and to share with local and global practitioners working towards community-driven goals. Our core partnership is between NatCap, CINCIA, and Herencia, and our collaborators are SUNASS (Peru), IDE (Peru), UPCH, UFAC Climate Change INstitute (Brazil), WCS (Peru), and ACCA (Peru).
Science and Technology
Spatial modeling and maps are critical to our assessments of natural vegetations ability to reduce drought and flood risks. We use technology like InVEST software to model carbon sequestration and tools to analyze ecosystem service models, gather data on mosquito-borne disease vector abundance, create flood risk mitigation models, and communicate progress. Through these methods we work to better understand how forests, riverine vegetation, and wetlands provide ecosystem services to urban centers and beyond.
Bringing public health leaders, politicians, researchers, and community leaders together is part of building a strong, informed community. PRO-agua intends to empower decision makers, who can influence land use planning, with information and networks necessary to create roadmaps for watershed management that reduce land degradation and incorporate natural ecosystems with potential to minimize risk to water, economic development, and health.
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Please contact PRO-AGUA Lead Adrian Vogl for more information.