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EditPhoto Title:Protecting fresh water in China
EditPhoto Description:The Water Fund provides long-term funding that benefits local communities.
EditImage Url:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_35607022.jpg
EditImage Description:Yangshuo River, China
EditPhoto Credit:© Fenners1984
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In the most populous country in the world, CI is demonstrating that even small changes can have a big impact on the environment — and improve people’s lives.


The Yangtze River is the third-longest river in the world, supplying fresh water to millions and supporting industrial and agricultural development all along its path. Keeping these benefits flowing requires protecting the forests at the river’s headwaters and reducing pollution.

Unfortunately, the forests are often cut for much-needed fuel. Meanwhile, pesticide and fertilizer runoff from agriculture are major pollutants of the water. Providing alternative fuel sources and livelihoods to these communities are key to a healthy, productive Yangtze River.



Our role

CI’s answer to the problem of balancing community needs with the goal of river protection is a policy called “Payment for Ecosystem Services” or PES. This model is based on a market mechanism — which means there are investors, capital and returns focused on biodiversity conservation.

In 2009, CI collaborated with local government and NGOs to establish the Water Fund. Secured with more than US$ 110,000 in start-up funding from 3M Foundation, Alcoa Foundation and Marriott International, the Water Fund is the first county-level PES fund in China.

The Water Fund supports sustainable agriculture and diversified livelihoods in rural communities near the Yangtze watershed. Families have received funding for organic honey production, electric heating systems to reduce firewood use, and free-range poultry farms. These projects benefit both freshwater conservation and local economic growth.

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EditImage Alt Text:Boat on the Yangtze River, China
EditTitle:By the numbers
EditSubtitle:~ US$ 1.5 million in funding
EditText:CI has secured nearly $1.5 million for freshwater projects that benefit communities in China.
EditPhoto Credit:© Bernd Thaller
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