The Role of Ecosystems in Optimizing Water, Energy and Food Infrastructure
Event

Side Event at the Nexus Conference // The Role of Ecosystems in Optimizing Water, Energy and Food Infrastructure

Convened by IUCN, IWA and UNEP. The ecosystem services provided by natural infrastructure underpin water, energy and food security. The services provided by forests, wetlands and floodplains support and complement engineered water, energy and food infrastructure. Without healthy ecosystems in well-functioning watersheds, the infrastructure built for irrigation, hydropower or municipal water supply does not function sustainably and is unlikely to achieve the economic returns necessary to justify investments.

This event aims to demonstrate the essential role of ecosystems in supporting water, energy and food infrastructure development in the Nexus.

Without healthy ecosystems in well-functioning watersheds, the infrastructure built for irrigation, hydropower or municipal water supply does not function sustainably and is unlikely to achieve the economic returns necessary to justify investments.

Investing in integrated management strategies that combine natural infrastructure with engineered solutions can reduce costs, enhance services and provide a range of multiple benefits across the water, energy and food security 'Nexus' for communities and the environment. Ecosystem management and restoration should be an integral part of the planning for infrastructure in the Nexus.

Presentations and discussion will focus on answering the following questions within three key themes:

-Integrating built and natural infrastructure solutions

--Will it work?

--Can it be implemented at the scale needed?

-Overcoming institutional and sectoral silos

--What policies are needed to support investment in natural infrastructure as an integral part of water infrastructure (e.g., incorporating the value of ecosystem services when making decisions about water infrastructure investments)?

--What tools exist or can be further developed to invest in natural infrastructure at the watershed level (e.g., payments for ecosystem services)?

-Infrastructure optimization

--What needs to be done to make it happen?

--Are there places where this is happening?

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