Marta Echavarria


Big Idea: 

Why we chose Marta as a Fellow

Even as a kid, Marta saw the tension between conservation and development in her native Colombia. Her career has been about turning that tension into a win for all concerned, as reflected by her company Ecodecison.

A third of the world's largest cities depend on protected watersheds for their drinking water and yet these "protected" areas are under-funded and threatened. The problem is not just funding; it's also a lack of an effective mechanism to ensure that funds translate into real protection. Through Ecodecision, Marta established The Quito Water Trust Fund in 2000 to show that big municipal water users would pay for watershed protection if they could be sure the money would be put to effective use. A fiduciary trust receives voluntary user fees from municipal water and electrical utilities and private companies and the returns of the endowment are invested in activities to maintain and increase the natural vegetative cover, which will ultimately prevent the loss of water flow and quality. The money is used to provide direct benefits to the upstream farmers and to assure the prevention of burns, deforestation and unsustainable production practices.

Rainer Arnhold Fellows