Close up of flowing water stream and rocks

© Nick Hall/TNC


The roots of TNC’s Resilient Watersheds Strategy can be traced back to Mianus Gorge in Bedford, NY—where the organization completed its first land acquisition project in 1955.

This model of watershed conservation still underpins our work today, nearly 70 years later.

View of Quito with The Andes in the background

© Federico Viegener/TNC Photo Contest 2019

The Resilient Watersheds Strategy began to formally take shape in 2000 when TNC and the Municipal Drinking Water Company of the City of Quito (EPMAPS) joined forces to restore Ecuador’s high Andean grasslands—an area rich in biodiversity that supplies water to Quito’s 2.6 million residents. The subsequently named Fund for the Protection of Water (FONAG) became the first water fund created to provide stakeholders with a mechanism to jointly invest in watershed protection and the socio-economic development of the communities that live there. Since its inception, FONAG has worked to improve the city’s water security by partnering with more than 400 local families to protect and restore nearly 45,000 hectares of paramos and Andean forests.

In the years since, we have established more than 40 watershed investment programs around the world that are improving water security while conserving critical habitat like the chalk streams of Norfolk, United Kingdom, the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River in Minnesota and the ancient fynbos habitat in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Resilient Watersheds team is rising to meet the global climate, biodiversity and water crises with innovative and tested solutions rooted in nature. But we can’t do it alone. Join us and be part of the global change

innovation timeline

  • 2000

    TNC launches the Quito Water Fund

    TNC catalyzes the first San Antonio citizen ballot initiative to support source water protection in the Edwards Aquifer

  • 2008

    New WFs are developed in Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador

  • 2010

    TNC portfolio reaches 10 Water Funds

  • 2011

    Latin America Water Funds Partnerships: 9 water funds created in LAR

  • 2015

    TNC portfolio reaches 20 Water Funds

    Longwu Water Fund launched, first of its kind in China

    Nairobi Water Fund launched, first of its kind in Africa

Aerial view of Potosi, Bolivia

© Gilberto Alonso Rodriguez Diaz/TNC Photo Contest 2019

meet the team

Looking up to tip of tall trees covering the sky

© Ka Lok Wong/TNC Photo Contest 2018

take action

Large school of fish with diver looking up at them

© Carlos Agilera Calderon/TNC

Build Your Network

Join the global Water Funds Network, a global, multi-disciplinary network of water funds practitioners and other professionals interested in source water protection. Originally founded by The Nature Conservancy, the Water Funds Network (WFN) is now an ever-growing community of experts who work to advance nature-based solutions around the world, and who are interested in exploring the strategy, process, and benefits of protecting and restoring watersheds. 

Join TNC’s regional Water Fund Networks in Africa and Latin America to share and learn with others who are navigating similar challenges. Each regional network has its own program of support and engagement, specific to the needs of their community members. Join the Water Funds for Africa Network here, and the Latin America Water Funds Network here.

Close up of hose spout irrigating field

© Roshni Lodhia

Obtain Technical Assistance

The Nature for Water Technical Assistance Facility. The Nature for Water Facility is a dedicated team of experts that provides consultancy-style support to assist local clients in building and operationalizing watershed investment programs. Launched in early 2022 and co-founded by TNC and Pegasys, the services it provides include pre-feasibility analysis, ROI + business case evaluation, strategy formulation, and monitoring & evaluation design, among others. The Facility offers semi-annual ‘Sponsored’ disbursement windows where support is awarded based on a call for proposals format, or you can engage Facility support on a fee-for-service consultancy basis.

Conduct a Rapid ROI Analysis using WaterProof. As a rapid return-on-investment tool, it is designed to provide stakeholders with a pre-feasibility, indicative assessment, regarding the potential for NbS to address water security challenges in their proposed project area. For users of the WaterProof platform seeking assistance with loading data, iterating scenarios, or interpreting results, members of the TNC WaterProof team are available to provide hand-in-hand support. Please reach out directly to with a brief description of your case and support needs.

Raging river water crashing on rocks

© Bridget Besaw/TNC

Strengthen Your Knowledge.  

Schedule an in-person, virtual and online training for practitioners. Our portfolio spans a diversity of topics ranging from an introduction to water security to in-depth workshops on how to conduct a return-on-investment analysis to determine an optimal investment portfolio. While we have a large collection of foundational, archived online trainings, we also partner with stakeholders to develop customized material that meet their specific needs. We have worked with AB InBev, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, International Water Association, Cranfield University, the French Development Agency, and more. 

Visit the Water Funds Toolbox, which codifies decades of experience in step-by-step guidance to help practitioners navigate the process of developing water funds and other watershed investment programs. Case studies ground the material with real-world examples, while template Terms of Reference and worksheets provide the reader with practical exercises to move their project forward. The Toolbox also delves into subject matter areas like groundwater recharge and soil health to ensure programs are rooted in sound science. Go here to access the Water Funds Field Guide or see a map of current Water Funds around the world.

Apply the CEO Water Mandate NbS Benefit Accounting methodology to account for the stacked water and carbon benefits of NbS, and identify their broader co-benefits. The ongoing initiative has developed a Landscape Assessment, Methodological Guide and user-friendly tool to identify and account for the co-benefits of NbS for water security. 

Build your understanding of NbS and Water Security in this new book which presents an action agenda for how to rapidly mainstream NbS. Chapters explore topics such as standards and principles, technical evaluation and design tools, capacity building, and innovative finance. 

bird jumping out of water holding fish with its beak

© Peter Sabol/TNC Photo Contest 2018