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.
Water in our landscapes is valuable, let’s not waste it. The recurring dry spells and heat waves remind us of the challenges we face to safeguard and restore raw water resources in often degraded landscapes. This is crucially important in our journey towards climate adaptation, as extreme rainfall as well as drought events become more and more common. The PROWATER partnership contributed to these challenges, and help find space for water in our landscapes. Through Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA), a Nature-based approach to climate adaptation, the partnership delivers ecosystem services including the retention and infiltration of rainwater in our landscapes. Examples of such measures include the restoration of temporal wetlands, permanent wetlands, infiltration zones and river valleys. These measures can be integrated into our natural and agricultural landscapes. In time of flood risk, they help lower the high water peaks in brooks and rivers by storing water in the landscape. In time of drought and increased water demand, the water stored in the landscape can be released back to the environment. As a first step, it is crucially important to determine in what location these different types of Ecosystem-based Adaptation measures should be implemented, to reach the desired impact on water infiltration and retention. PROWATER facilitated this (spatial) vision building exercise for Ecosystem-based Adaptation. The partnership developed a participatory approach to spatial vision building for Ecosystem-based Adaptation at the catchment-level. This approach relies on the following steps: 1) Understanding the catchment 2) Identifying water resource risks & challenges 3) Identifying & engaging stakeholders 4) Ecosystem-based Adaptation targeting 5) Ecosystem Service quantification 6) Monitoring & adjustment where needed To support this process, project partner University of Antwerp developed a toolbox, including a spatial prioritisation tool (water system map) and an impact assessment tool. Overall, PROWATER strengthened the business case for EbA and watershed Ecosystem Services (including infiltration and retention of rainwater) through demonstration sites for EbA, instruments for spatial prioritization and impact assessment, and practice and policy recommendations on Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) development. This is an important step towards the operationalisation of PES schemes for EbA measures targeted at watershed Ecosystem Services.