Protecting our water-related ecological infrastructure by building an investment case.
This paper presented a transdisciplinary research project called "Socio-Economic Benefits of Investing in Ecological Infrastructure", or SEBEI. Six study sites were investigated, 3 in Berg-Breede catchments (Western Cape), and 3 in the uMngeni catchment (KwaZulu-Natal). In addition to quantifying hydrological, ecological and livelihoods impacts, key stakeholders from the government, NGOs, and the private sector who are involved with implementing or funding investments into ecological infrastructure were engaged with. Two out of 4 round of workshops took place in November 2018 and April 2019. One the main activities of the first workshop was to get a better understanding of: (1) What motivates investments in ecological infrastructure? (2) What is needed to make a sound case for investment in EI at different scales? (3) What are the major barriers to investment? At the second workshop, participants were invited to co-design specific aspects of the SEBEI project methodology in 3 working groups. Firstly, as part of the governance group, several typologies of implementation models that resulted from the ecological infrastructure intervention inventory were validated. Secondly, for the socio-economic benefits group, stakeholders were asked for input on which indirect benefits to people (employed, on-site and downstream) they thought would be important for the SEBEI project to attempt to measure. Thirdly, for the mapping and modelling group, investment scenarios, scales, and maps of invasive alien trees were critiqued. Three scenarios were modelled: the current state of ecological infrastructure, the 'best case', and degradation of ecological infrastructure on a timeframe (e.g. 20 years) selected by stakeholders.