J.P. Morgan today announced its funding in support of The Nature Conservancy-led Greater Cape Town Water Fund (GCTWF) to remove invasive plants in priority source water areas in the Greater Cape Town region.
GCTWF brings together a diverse coalition of public and private sector partners to invest in watershed restoration activities that will yield the greatest benefit for nature and people.
Studies have found that invasive plants remove 55 billion litres of water per year from catchments feeding the region’s dams and aquifers.
By controlling invasive plants and restoring native habitat in the most important areas of the watershed, Cape Town could gain up to two months’ supply of water at one tenth the cost of engineering solutions.
When comparing the removal of invasive trees with other augmentation options such as desalination, the return on investment of this kind of project is 351%*.
The GCTWF is also training and investing in teams from local communities where women typically do not regularly work outside the home and are responsible for supporting extended families, children, and the elderly. Specialist high angle training includes accredited wilderness rope access training; wilderness first aid training; firefighting; footpath maintenance and wetland rehabilitation.
These jobs are greatly needed in the Greater Cape Town region, where the unemployment rate is around 30%. Studies have shown that for every job created, three additional people benefit economically, greatly expanding the impact on disadvantaged communities.
In conjunction with several local partners, The Nature Conservancy-led Greater Cape Town Water Fund’s is rolling out a business plan which will result in annual water gains of 55 billion litres per year (equating to two months’ water supply for Cape Town) over the first six years of the project.
100 billion litres of water gained per year
By 2045, these actions will yield 100 billion litres of water per year, equivalent to a third of Cape Town’s current annual supply. The City of Cape Town’s water resilience plan aims to spend up to R8 billion in public funding to increase surface water storage through the removal of invasive plants, drill boreholes, build desalination plants and boost water reuse.
Louise Stafford, Programme Director of TNC South Africa, commented:
“The funds from companies such as J.P. Morgan assist us to make a meaningful impact. Our work does not only create valuable jobs, but also makes business sense.
Water Funds are public-private partnerships designed to use nature-based solutions for securing water for cities. This is achieved through collective action that ensures good governance, transparency and improved coordination.
Clearing alien invasive plants is now a key component of the City of Cape Town’s Water Strategy. The City of Cape Town recently announced a R62 million investment over three years to boost the GCTWF’s nature-based work and accelerate the clearing efforts. TNC is matching the City of Cape Town’s R62 million contribution rand-for-rand through contributions raised in the private sector and from philanthropy.”
A catalyst for systemic change in catchment restoration
Kevin Latter, J.P. Morgan’s Senior Country Officer in South Africa, commented:
“We are very excited about getting involved, as this work will ensure that the Greater Cape Town Water Fund becomes a catalyst for systemic change in catchment restoration in Cape Town and beyond. The project is set to drive restoration, create jobs, protect globally important biodiversity, and improve climate change resilience by playing a role in securing the country’s water supply.”
Daniel Shemie, Water Fund Strategy Lead from TNC commented:
“TNC has launched more than 40 water funds on four continents and gathered a robust collection of guidance, tools, and lessons learned. Founded on the principle that it is less expensive to prevent water problems at the source than it is to address them further downstream, water funds are proving that cities can harness the power of nature to enhance water quality and quantity at a fraction of the cost of traditional treatment infrastructure. These natural solutions also deliver ecological, social, and economic benefits such as improved soil, water, and habitat health, and new green jobs.”