Communities are faced with competing priorities to invest in resilient infrastructure, natural resources, and ecosystems. How can we put funding to its best use to meet these diverse needs and create safe and sustainable communities?
Multi-benefit projects create many outcomes that are valued by diverse users, such as levees that reduce flood risk, improve water quality, and create habitat for fish and wildlife; or forest management projects that sequester carbon, improve watersheds, and reduce wildfire risk. Valuing and leveraging the multiple benefits these projects provide can enable better outcomes from each dollar for both people and nature.
The complexity of multiple benefits
Many infrastructure projects already face limited budgets, tight timelines, and procurement restrictions — and designing projects to have multiple benefits can also increase project cost and complexity.
A typical procurement process ties funding directly to project needs (such as planning or construction) rather than the achievement of defined project benefits (such as habitat or flood risk reduction). Single-purpose funding sources restrict which types of projects or even actions can be funded, and are often not sufficient to fund the entire project for a suite of benefits.
This process frequently requires leveraging several “buckets” of funding, each with their own restrictions and red tape. Coupled with rising construction and O&M costs, multiple agency mandates, and competing pressures for every acre of land; opportunities to create projects that include environmental and community benefits may be rejected out of the need to simply get projects done.