Gretchen's organization, the Natural Capital Project (Nat Cap), develops practical approaches for valuing nature (that are available as free software) and works with governments, businesses, NGOs and community groups to make things happen. Gretchen and I recently discussed her work and vision for the future.
Sustainable water and energy development requires public participation in decision making just as much as money and technical expertise. The Nature Conservancy makes a strong case that smart planning needs to address the systems level rather than just individual dams. It now needs to expand its approach and give the rights of affected communities the place they deserve.
Solving São Paulo's water crisis will require drastic short-term actions. But for other cities in which growth is out of sync with water supplies, one relatively simple strategy can go a long way toward avoiding a similar crisis: employing nature as an ally. Cities that invest in protecting their watersheds can achieve three goals.