Launch of Water Technical Working Group Phase II: Developing criteria for water-related nature based investments


Climate Bonds Initiative has launched a new Technical Working Group (TWG) to begin work on Phase II of the Climate Bonds Standard Water Criteria. These Criteria will be used to screen water assets and projects, identifying those that appropriately address climate risks and can therefore be certified under the Climate Bonds Standard.


Phase I focussed on Grey Infrastructure Assets 

Phase I of the Water Criteria and the initial TWG focussed primarily on screening grey (built) infrastructure projects and assets. During the latter stages of this development of Phase I, it became apparent that an in-depth look at water-related nature based green infrastructure would be beneficial to investors and issuers.

Water infrastructure is a very broad field and there is a need for Climate Bonds Criteria to encompass both grey and green infrastructure, built and natural water assets.


Phase II will focus on Nature Based Green Infrastructure Assets

Phase II will thus develop criteria for screening nature based green infrastructure for water projects and natural asset restoration and remediation.

Both Phase I & II include climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience factors.



Dr John Matthews, AGWA & TWG Lead Specialist

“Evaluating and financing these [green infrastructure] approaches as investments that can compete against traditional grey solutions in terms of efficacy and profit marks a profound change.”

“Although our Technical Working Group has just started its work, I can already see dramatic, exciting ways to showcase, evaluate, and compare nature-based solutions to climate mitigation and adaptation.”

“I have hope that we may being moving from isolated "pilot" projects to unleashing the power of global markets to effect transformational solutions to significant environmental and economic challenges.”


The Water Phase II TWG has had its initial meeting and will reconvene on a monthly basis. It will develop recommended criteria for public consultation, before being reviewed by the Climate Bonds Standards Board.

An Industry Working Group (IWG) will also be convened. The role of the IWG will be to evaluate the proposed criteria and provide feedback on feasibility, credibility, potential demand and industry interest. Once the TWG have developed, and the IWG have reviewed, the criteria they will release them for public consultation.


Who’s involved?

The TWG is made up of industry experts and academics authorities from various water related disciplines. As a result, the proposed criteria will reflect the insights and experiences of multiple institutions and disciplines.


TWG Lead Specialist


Alliance for Global Water Adaptation
Dr. John Matthews
Secretariat Coordinator
Water TWG Lead Specialist




Technical Working Group Members


World Bank Group's Environment & Natural Resources Global Practice
Valerie Hickey
California Organized Investment Network (COIN)
Peter Streit
Investment Officer
European Investment Bank
Nancy Saich
Senior Advisor on Climate Action & Environment
Prof. Michael McClain
Professor of Ecohydrology
World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Tatiana Fedotova
Manager, Water Cluster
University of North Carolina
Dr. Larry Band
Director, Institute for the Environment
Tetra Tech
Dan Christian
Senior Water Resource Engineer
Cees van de Guchte
Scenarios & Policy Analysis
American Water Works Association
Cynthia Lane
Director of Engineering & Technical Services
IUCN Global Water Programme
Dr. James Dalton
Coordinator Global Water Initiatives
UNEP-DHI Partnership
Maija Bertule
Programme Advisor
Alliance for Global Water Adaptation
Christine Chan
Monika Freyman
Director, Water Program
World Resources Institute
Todd Gartner
Senior Associate, Food, Forests & Water Program
Stockholm International Water Institute
John Joyce
Chief Economist, Water Economics
Dr. Musonda Mumba
Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) Flagship Programme Coordinator
Deloitte Consulting LLP
Will Sarni
Director & Practice Leady, Water Strategy, Social Impact Services
Earth Security Group
Margot Hill Clarvis
Senior Manager
Organica Water
Ari Raivetz

Stockholm International Water Institute
Torgny Holmgren
Executive Director

Charles Rives Watershed Association
Bob Zimmerman
Executive Director
Bioatlatlantic Institute
Marco Follador
Director of Adaptation Planning
University of California, Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Ted Grantham
Cooperative Extension Specialist in Climate & Water
Denver Water
Laurna Kaatz
Climate Scientist

Dr. Elena Lopez-Gunn

2030 Water Resources Group (hosted by IFC) 

Rochi Khemka
Regional Coordinator
Conservation International
Dave Hole
Senior Director, Global Synthesis
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Debbie Larson-Salvatore
Institute for Water Resources
The Nature Conservancy
Jorge Gastelumendi
Senior Policy Advisor

Jason Fairbairn
Senior Hydrogeologist

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Charles B Chestnutt
Institute for Water Resources
Global Environment Facility
Christian Severin
Senior Environmental Specialist

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Junguo Liu
Research Scholar Ecosystems Service & Management
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Lisa Hair
Senior Environmental Engineer

US Geological Survey
Janet Cushing
Deputy Chief, National Climate Change & Wildlife Science Center

Beijing Forest University

Benjamin Denjean


Why Phase II is necessary?

It is becoming increasingly apparent how much of a buffer natural water based assets can provide against a changing climate. These aren’t ‘built’ to provide a buffer, but can often be just as effective as grey infrastructure and can be enhanced for this purpose through active restoration and improved conservation. 

The Water Criteria Phase II will help to address this environmental challenge. By detailing what nature based solutions can contribute meaningfully to the necessary rapid transition to a low carbon economy it will allow investors to better prioritise these water based investments. It will also clarify to issuers what projects and assets can and should be included in green bonds.


Todd Gartner Senior Associate for the World Resources Institute’s Food, Forests & Water Program:

“Green and grey water infrastructure must be upgraded, designed and maintained with a climate resilience and adaptation focus, whilst maximising opportunities for climate mitigation. If current and future water infrastructure is to support communities it must be climate resilient.”



Who’s Done What in Water So Far?

Green bonds are already being issued for sustainable water; they made up almost 10% of 2015 green bond proceeds.

In mid-2014 DC Water led the way with its USD 350m, 100 year ‘green century’ bond, with proceeds for storm water and wastewater treatment. Other green water bonds have come from the City of Cleveland, City of Saint Paul’s, Indiana Finance Authority and the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank amongst others.

The San Francisco Public Utility Commission is the latest to come to market with its May 2016 USD 240m certified green water bond: the first bond to be Climate Bonds Certified using the Water Criteria Phase I.

Earlier this year, on World Water Day, The White House recognised this on-going work on low carbon water investments in its report ‘Commitments to Action on Building a Sustainable Water Future’. This report illustrates that the majority of US action on sustainable water currently focuses on grey water infrastructure.

Phase II of the Water Criteria will help to broaden understanding of the intersection of water-related green infrastructure investment with climate adaptation and resilience. 


The Last word

“The critical lens of climate must be used to assess future water investments, green and grey. We need to shift investable capital in a short space of time. The Water Criteria’s evaluation of water related green bonds will boost investor confidence and issuer clarity.”

“Water issues are pervasive across so many facets of climate change and sustainability challenges. The extension of criteria development to the natural environment and water-based ecosystems is a logical step to undertake.”

Justine Leigh-Bell, Head of Standards, Climate Bonds Initiative


The Water Criteria are kindly supported by:






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