In the misty forests of Colombia’s Andes Mountain region, the world seems to be drenched in water. However, as the communities in the Chinchiná River Basin know well, in a changing climate every drop counts. Agricultural expansion, mining practices, livestock grazing, and other factors threaten the clarity and quantity of water available to local communities. Ten years ago, local leaders recognized this threat and formed a governance platform, Pactos por la Cuenca del Río Chinchiná, to coordinate public and private actions across the watershed. By 2018 the Vivo Cuenca Water Fund was born – a sustainable, transparent, and long-term financial mechanism to align the incentives of individual actions with common environmental objectives.
Water Funds are locally owned and driven platforms that bring together private funders, water utilities, hydroelectric companies, and community organizations to make strategic decisions to manage and protect water resources. In early 2000 leaders in Quito, Ecuador, with support from USAID, formed FONAG, the region’s first Water Fund. Since then, communities around the world have replicated FONAG’s successful model – in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru alone more than 22.8 million people depend on the watersheds covered by nine Water Funds.
Forming a Community of Practice
As the ecosystem of Water Funds has grown, groups like Vivo Cuenca are eager to share learning to enable long-term fund sustainability. Enter Fundación Futuro Latinioamericano (FFLA), a regional nonprofit committed to facilitating locally led sustainable development. Recognizing the growing appetite to strengthen Water Fund sustainability, FFLA, with support from the Tinker Foundation, formed the Andean Water Funds Platform. This community of practice will build on existing capacities to support scaling the model to other watersheds across Latin America.
In February 2021, FFLA and nine Water Funds from across Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia met in Manizales, Colombia to design and officially launch the Andean Water Funds Platform. FFLA invited Environmental Incentives to support co-developing solutions to meet common needs across the Water Fund community of practice. The EI team facilitated a participatory workshop to create a common vision and clear path for the Funds, using a logic framework and co-creating a Theory of Change visualized through a Results Chain model.