styles of natural infrastructure

Natural Infrastructure for Water Solutions (NIWS)

Over the next 5 years, Natural Infrastructure for Water Solutions is scaling up natural infrastructure on Canada's Prairies—for cleaner water and more resilient communities.

Working alongside stakeholders and champions from many sectors, we are:

  • Making the business case for natural infrastructure, by demonstrating how impactful and cost-effective it can be
  • Encouraging local municipalities to adopt more natural infrastructure projects
  • Enabling access to funding for those who want to implement natural infrastructure
  • Making sure that natural infrastructure is supported and championed by all levels of government.
The image has the title of the report beside an image of water on the Canadian Prairies. The title is: Natural Infrastructure and Prairie Prosperity.
The natural infrastructure sector contributes billions to the Prairie-wide economy and creates jobs. Our latest REPORT shows the estimated direct contribution to the GDP of the Canadian Prairies was CAD 4.1 billion in 2022. It's also estimated the sector directly employed over 33,000 people in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. We need greater investment in this sector, which is required to treat and supply clean, fresh water to the millions who live on Canada's Prairies.










Why Natural Infrastructure?

Natural infrastructure is a way to plan and work with nature to meet our infrastructure needs.

Imagine more wetlands (both natural and designed)green roofs, and stormwater parks, working actively to meet the needs of prairie communities. Natural infrastructure can be a preserved ecosystem (e.g., wetland), a restored ecosystem (e.g., replanted riparian area), or even a nature-based engineered feature (e.g., green roof).

The common thread? Natural infrastructure is managed to provide specific infrastructure benefits, with the potential for many other social and environmental benefits. There is increasing evidence that natural infrastructure can deliver much-needed water outcomes cost efficiently while also providing areas for recreation, habitat to support wildlife, and improving the overall resilience of our communities.

Why Us?

Here at IISD, we have been championing the benefits of natural infrastructure for decades, from deploying floating treatment wetlands at the world's freshwater laboratory to soak up harmful excess nutrients to managing a wetland at Pelly's Lake, Manitoba to protect local areas from flooding.

Now, our Natural Infrastructure for Water Solutions initiative aims to take NI from novel to normal on the Canadian Prairies, by ensuring it is backed by evidence, adopted, financed and enabled by policy.

Want to Join Us?


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