Project budget5 526 620 €
ERDF amount3 315 972 €
Build resilience against droughts (and water scarcity) by enhancing infiltration and water retention capacity of landscapes in regions of strategic importance for drinking water production. Climate projections for the 2 seas area, point towards dryer and warmer summers with more extreme and concentrated precipitation events (summer storms). This could result in a higher demand for water production (on hot, dry days, water consumption can triple). Increased water abstractions volumes during summer will have high impacts at an already critical moment for water dependent ecosystems. This will aggravate the conflict between water provisioning and biodiversity conservation. Restoring and developing blue-green structures in landscapes improves the hydrological resilience to droughts and floods, provides substantial climate mitigation benefits and benefits biodiversity.
The overall objective is to build resilience against droughts (and extreme precipitation events) through Ecosystem based Adaptation measures. Therefore it is our key objective to develop and implement a PES-model (Payment for Ecosystem Services) that facilitates the actual implementation of Ecosystem Based Adaptation measures. Independent organisations that work on landscape rehabilitation can thus play a role as ‘ethical brokers’ in providing services (by selecting/funding/implementing measures) to society. By identifying, quantifying and demonstrating the additional benefits (ecosystem services) of the ecosystem-based adaptation measures, it becomes possible to recognize the full spectrum of the benefits (Ecosystem Services) that are associated with Ecosystem based Adaptation (EbA) measures and provide additional leverage for implementation.
- WP1: POLICY ANALYSIS will deliver an output that provides guidance on how to develop a rewarding scheme for EbA measures that promote infiltration and restoration. How to identify buyers, brokers and sellers and set up partnerships, including recommendations on ethical, political, juridical and organisational challenges.
- WP2: TOOLBOX development will deliver 1) a tool for spatial prioritization and evaluation of EbA measures and 2) a tool to quantify the co-benefits of EbA measures
- WP3: VISION BUILDING will develop a long-term assessment and vision on water demand and supply challenges in the 2 Seas Region (WP3), making use of participatory approaches (workshops & meetings with buyers and brokers).
- WP4 IMPLEMENTATION will showcase the effective implementation (investments) of EbA measures in the field (good practices). For each site, we will quantify the impacts and produce information panes for visitors to the sites.
Cross border approach
Climate change will affect the 2 Seas region similarly, but the impact of drought and water scarcity is often neglected. The cross-border project is needed to fill the information gap to policy and the general public, about the need for long-term drought risk strategies to address water scarcity and drought risk. This project can achieve the necessary momentum for the concept of ecosystem based water scarcity and drought mitigation strategies. There is a high complementarity of expertise. A spatially explicit ES-assessment tool is available from the ECOPLAN project (BE), whilst the UK partners have vast experience in setting up and managing PES-schemes with the Upstream Water Thinking project, the NL partners with implementation and demonstration. For each region at least a water production company, authority and a research institute is included as partner or observer. Such partnerships are a strong signal towards policy and may create a momentum in the water sector to take action.
Climate projections for the 2 Seas area point towards drier and warmer summers with more extreme and concentrated precipitation events in the form of summer storms. This could result in a higher demand for water production in the future. However, our natural capital – the stock of natural assets that we rely on – is under threat from climate change. It is key to the provision of clean and plentiful water. In order to ensure the raw water resources that we need, we have to restore our ecosystems to become more resilient to climate change and adapt.
On 5 March 2019, we launched the Interreg PROWATER project in Canterbury, UK. The cross-border project PROWATER stands for 'protecting and restoring raw water sources through actions at the landscape scale’, and contributes to climate change adaptation by restoring the water storage of the landscape through "ecosystem-based adaptation measures". Examples are forest conversion, natural water retention or restoration of soil compaction.
The implementation and demonstration of good practices for restoration of hydrological resilience to droughts is advancing well. The first tendered works started in October 2019 at investment site “De Scheppelijke Nete”. A description of all the investment sites can be found on the PROWATER website, which was launched this year as well.
Another key objective of the PROWATER project is to pave the way to development of a collective approach (Payment for Adaptation Measures) and common toolbox (spatial prioritisation, assessment of co-benefits). This will pave the way towards an operational long-term rewarding/funding scheme for the spatial implementation of EbA measures that increase the hydrological resilience to droughts.
We follow a methodic procedure. The first step is to make a SWOT analysis of such a PEbA rewarding/funding scheme. Therefore, a series of workshops have been organized in Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019 to make an inventory of potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In these workshops we discussed the need and desirability of PES-schemes from different perspectives.
To really succeed, we need to continuously raise awareness on water scarcity and establish partnerships for implementing EbA measures. Further implementation the delivered communication strategy & communication plan (considering the target groups identified) in 2020 will significantly advance the progress towards PROWATER’s objectives described above.