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.
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 via 'ecosystem-based adaptation measures'. Examples of this are forest conversion, natural water retention or restoration of soil compaction.
These interventions increase resilience against droughts and floods and benefit water quality and biodiversity. During the next years project partners in Flanders, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom will carry out various exemplary projects on site and will showcase them to the public.
The benefits of the measures will be identified so that a 'Payment for Ecosystem Services' model can be developed. This model will investigate how organizations that take measures to combat water scarcity can receive compensation. In return, they provide services to society by improving the quality of the living environment.
Finally, the project wants to close the information gap with policy and the water user, by developing a vision to tackle water scarcity and drought risks in the long term.
A cross-border cooperation
From November 2017 up to August 2022, 10 partners from Flanders, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom work together on PROWATER. The project has a budget of more than 5.5 million euros.
There is a high complementarity of expertise. A spatially explicit Ecosystem Services-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.
In each country, water production companies, governments and research institutes as well as land managers are involved in order to achieve a supported vision.
The project receives 3.315.974 € through the Interreg 2 Seas Fund (ERDF) to work on climate adaptation and to increase resilience against droughts and extreme precipitation based on ecosystem services. Interreg 2 seas is a European territorial cooperation program for the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Belgium (Flanders).
Through Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) measures increasing the infiltration and water storage capacity of the landscape, PROWATER intends to increase the resilience of the 2 Seas region to drought effects. This will contribute to sustainable water provisioning during the increasingly frequent and persistent drought spells.
WP1 POLICY - Through workshops and literature review, we will provide guidance on how to develop a rewarding scheme for EbA measures targeted at drought and flooding. This will include policy recommendations regarding Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) on ethical, political, juridical and organisational challenges.
WP2 TOOLBOX - In collaboration with the University of Antwerp, we 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. Special attention will be given to the user experience, to increase the applicability of the tools by spatial planners and policy makers.
WP3 VISION BUILDING - We will develop a process for long term vision-building on water supply challenges in the 2 Seas Region, making use of participatory approaches (workshops with buyers and brokers) and including input from all work packages.
WP4 IMPLEMENTATION - We will showcase the implementation of EbA measures in the demonstration sites. For each investment site (IS), we will quantify the impacts, using the tools developed in WP2. Conclusions will be taken up in our long-term vision building process. By (theoretically) applying our recommendations regarding incentivisation of EbA measure implementation (WP1) on the investment sites we will also feedback PES-specific information to the crucially important long-term vision building.