The Role of Green Infrastructure in Water, Energy and Food Security in Latin America and the Caribbean: Experiences, Opportunities and Challenges

Accesible PDF image
Aug 2019
The Nexus of water, energy and food encompass the three interactive factors controlling both human communities and ecosystems. Traditional engineering approaches (gray infrastructure) are not able to meet challenges to Nexus sustainability posed by changing human demographics and climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) because of constraints of time for planning and implementation. Green infrastructure, utilizing ecosystems or their select structural and functional components, can be implemented rapidly and provide cost effective treatment equivalent to gray infrastructure. The experience with green infrastructure historically has focused on constructed wetlands for waste water treatment, but recently has evolved to a broader perspective of multiple, integrative technologies to address urban sustainability in water, energy and food. With changing water availability across the region due to climate change and evolving sectoral demands impacting overall water resources downstream, increased attention has been paid to water conservation, storage and reuse using green infrastructure. Challenges exist with full implementation at both community and governmental levels, but there is increased recognition of the economic importance of green infrastructure projects, increasingly developed as hybrid systems with gray infrastructure, to local economies and Nexus security. Biomes are proposed as a fundamental unit for planning and implementation of green infrastructure.