Continuing the tradition of 17 previous international Katoomba meetings, Katoomba XVIII: Forests, Water, and People will gather leading experts, practitioners, policymakers, and investors from China and abroad to advance nature-based solutions to the water crisis for an urbanizing world.
Water resources are increasingly jeopardized by climate change, pollution, watershed degradation, and misuse, with 80 percent of the world now facing significant threats to water security. The challenge is particularly severe in China, where one in seven people lacks access to drinking water that meets national standards. The scale of this challenge requires creative solutions that go beyond conventional approaches. Recognizing the critical role of healthy watersheds, governments, businesses, and civil society organizations around the world have begun to engage the communities of these watersheds in compensation- and incentive-based programs to support watershed stewardship. In addition to protecting and restoring the natural water infrastructure upon which society depends, these investments in watershed services (IWS) programs can achieve returns on social capital, rural development, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity.
Forest Trends has tracked steady growth in IWS over recent years, with nature-based solutions to urban water insecurity, like the source water protection programs demonstrated in New York City and Beijing, an important part of this trend. China has been a leader in the field, accounting for over $7.4 billion in watershed investments in 2011. The potential for scale in investments in watershed services is great, but can only be achieved through innovation in policy, business, and program design. Katoomba XVIII will bring together actors from all sectors to galvanize learning, share experiences, and catalyze innovation for forests, water, and people.