Building a global community of practice around natural water infrastructure

Who We Are

Forest Trends is a Washington D.C.-based international non-profit organization that was created in 1999 by leaders from conservation organizations, forest products firms, research groups, multilateral development banks, private investment funds and philanthropic foundations. Our mission is four-fold: to expand the value of forests to society; to promote sustainable forest management and conservation by creating and capturing market values for ecosystem services; to support innovative projects and companies that are developing these markets; and to enhance the livelihoods of local communities living in and around those forests. We do this by analyzing strategic market and policy issues, catalyzing connections between forward looking producers, communities and investors, and developing new financial tools to help markets work for conservation and people. Our approach integrates the fundamental dimensions of ecology, economy and equity because our goal is to have an impact on a scale that is meaningful globally and for a diverse set of stakeholders.

Ecosystem Marketplace, an initiative of Forest Trends, is a leading source of news, data, and analytics on markets and payments for ecosystem services (such as water quality, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity). We believe that by making accessible information on policy, finance, regulation, science, business, and other market-relevant factors, markets for ecosystem services will one day become a fundamental part of our economic system, helping give value to environmental services that, for too long, have been taken for granted. In providing free reliable market information, we hope not only to facilitate transactions (thereby lowering transaction costs), but also to catalyze new thinking, spur the development of new markets and the infrastructure that supports them, and achieve effective and equitable nature conservation.

Watershed Connect, a project of Forest Trends and Ecosystem Marketplace, is an online platform connecting practitioners, policy-makers, and other stakeholders involved in investing in our natural water infrastructure. The online platform serves as a centralized space to learn about the latest news and analyses, join relevant social media discussions, share your project or organization’s work, access key resources and tools, and research ongoing efforts on payments for watershed services (PWS) and water quality trading.

Background

Globally, PWS and other watershed payments projects and policies have been gaining steam: Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace 2010 State of Watershed Payments report found that the value of active watershed payment programs in 2008 was over US$9 billion. Despite the amount of activity in watershed payments and markets, however, there has not been a systematic effort to connect individuals across geographies and regions with experience, expertise, and interest in this field. Watershed Connect, together with a broader Forest Trends initiative to cultivate an active community of practitioners and decision-makers will fill this gap.

Watershed Connect & a Community of Practice

Watershed Connect is an online resource to advance watershed solutions that value and create investment in natural capital. To date, best practices are hard to find, spread out across a variety of organizations and mediums, and in many cases inaccessible. Perhaps more importantly, there is no effective space for stakeholders interested in PWS to connect with one another and share experiences and ideas. Watershed Connect fills this void.

Watershed Connect provides four key services:

Connect, a suite of communication tools, lets community members join and track watershed-related social media discussion groups (like LinkedIn and Twitter). Community members also receive The Water Log, a monthly newsbrief which summarizes news from around the world, or provided by members, and updates on key new insights, resources, and tools. A jobs board, an events calendar, and a member directory also connect members with other projects, programs, and people.

A comprehensive global Project Inventory will be maintained to establish a baseline of understanding of what is happening, where, and by whom; and to highlight the latest case studies and projects. Community members are able to post and update their own watershed service projects to be included in the Project Inventory.

The News & Analysis section will feature original and insightful articles written by journalists from the Ecosystem Marketplace and top-tier, freelance journalists as well as relevant news articles collected regularly from news sources around the globe.

And finally, the Resources section is a carefully assembled catalogue of key publications and tools, allowing the user to quickly locate relevant materials. The section will also include a description of each stage of the project development cycle, and link to further information to help users find materials appropriate to their stage of project development.