Stockholm (Sweden), September 3 (EFE).- When it comes to the environmental crisis, WRI expert Todd Gartner has urged an “all-of-the-above” solution: reduce consumption and emissions while investing time in technology and nature, the “most cost-effective option” available.
This was explained by Gartner, director of the Cities4Forests program at the World Resources Institute (WRI), in an interview with EFE as part of World Water Week 2022, a meeting on water that took place this week in Stockholm (Sweden).
The specialist highlighted a commitment to nature-based solutions (often referred to by its acronym SBN), actions to improve ecosystems aimed at resisting water-related climate impacts (such as droughts or floods), and mitigating warming.
According to Gartner, investment in SBNs is increasing, particularly in Latin America and other regions of the Global South, where there is “the greatest opportunity to deploy nature for multiple benefits”, as it is in this part of the world where “there will be the highest percentage infrastructure investment over the next two decades’.
In this way, “the decisions we make in terms of how the infrastructure develops” will matter, he defended, and warned that “if we limit ourselves to built systems”, i.e. concrete, “we are committing ourselves to a three-degree future”. of warming (relative to pre-industrial levels).
That is why in Latin America and the Caribbean there are “hundreds of projects, most of which are relatively small in scale – he explained – but which together represent a huge number of benefits in terms of water, clean air, employment for local communities” and other improvements to people’s health and the environment.
Gartner claims that SBNs are currently the most economically viable as they are “the most cost-effective option available”, although it is true that “the longer we wait, the more expensive and difficult it will be” to get results in time to reverse the ecological devastation, a challenge the scientific community estimates will need to be overcome in less than a decade.
When talking about SBN, this expert thinks of two different scales: on the one hand, those intended for cities, and on the other, those of hydrographic basins.
On an urban scale, he gave the example of Jakarta, Indonesia, a city that WRI helped pass a regulation that requires more trees to be planted in the city so that every neighborhood has a green space “within walking distance” by 2030.
If successful, the initiative could achieve several things: “reducing urban flooding; drastically cleans the air, as trees and green spaces act as a filter; and achieve a healthier society through opportunities for outdoor recreation and exercise,” Gartner recalls.
Regarding the hydrographic scale of the basin, the expert specifically referred to the case of Vitoria, in Espirito Santo (Brazil).
Over the past decade, this state has experienced a severe drought that has reduced average rainwater contributions by 65%, according to official records, a fact that has contributed to a water crisis that has motivated water allocation policies and supply cuts.
Last year, a study by the WRI team in Brazil showed that the government of Espirito Santo could get more out of its investments in reserves by investing in green infrastructure, such as native forests, which help keep watersheds healthy.
Thus, WRI has just promoted the development of a plan that “will lead to the restoration of more than 600,000 acres of priority forests around the cities” of this Brazilian state.
Gartner emphasized that this commitment to forest cover would “dramatically” ensure the availability of more water, translating into “more water security for decades” at a much lower cost than if they “just tried to build their way from the challenges that face” with gray infrastructure.
By Marta Montojo