Tag Archives: watershed services


SDC Phase Two Summary

As we approach the end of Phase 1, writing the Phase 2 proposal has afforded us the opportunity to critically evaluate the completed work and design our next steps, as well as assess our approach to scaling up IWS. While the overall goal for Phase 2 remains the same, we have revised our approach in a way will allow us to be more effective, harness more synergies, and include the insights and experiences of the project partners throughout all elements of the project.  As a result, Phase 2 shows a transition away from the three pillars of Phase 1 (project portfolio, analytical toolbox, and community of practice) and towards a more integrated approach.

The evolution of our approach to scaling up investments in watershed services.

The evolution of our approach to scaling up investments in watershed services.

One of the drivers behind the new approach is the importance of including the expertise and insights of the projects partners throughout the portfolio.  We welcome your contributions throughout this project – not only in demonstrating IWS solutions through your project work.  As you read through this summary of the Phase 2 proposal, please identify opportunities you see to advance other aspects of the project – and let us know!

read more »


Including Social and Gender Impacts in Investments in Watershed Services Programs

As part of the Scaling Up project, Forest Trends and the Water Initiative have released a new publication providing initial recommendations for including social impact assessment in investments in watershed services programs.  While IWS projects definitely have the potential to have social and gender impacts (and sometimes have social and gender goals stated within them), the publication demonstrates that few IWS projects have monitored or evaluated the extent of these impacts.

From the Forest Trends site: 

The main objective of this paper is to provide recommendations on the social impact assessment (SIA) of investments for watershed services (IWS) projects or programs. The paper draws on an extensive literature on the theory and practice of SIA, on the authors’ experiences of applying SIA in other natural resource contexts, and on discussions from a workshop with IWS program practitioners. It can be regarded as an introductory primer on SIA for IWS practitioners.

Download the report here.



Relevant Research Tools and Frameworks

Determining the Optimal Investment Portfolio for Water Funds

How can a water fund get the biggest bang for its buck? RIOS – the Resource Investment Optimization System – is a new tool designed to help water funds make cost-effective investments in watershed services.  Using RIOS, a water fund manager can utilize existing biophysical, social, and economic data to find the best locations for investment in order to have the highest possible return on investment.  Initial investments made using the RIOS approach have improved the return on investments in Colombia by up to 600%.

According to the Natural Capital Project’s website (the product developer), RIOS is designed to answer three questions:

  • Which set of watershed investments (in which activities, and where) will yield the greatest returns towards multiple objectives?
  • What change in ecosystem services can I expect from these investments?
  • How do the benefits of these investments compare to what would have been achieved under an alternate investment strategy?

Download the RIOS software here (Microsoft Windows 7 required): http://www.naturalcapitalproject.org/RIOS.html

Learn more about how the software was developed and the theoretical documentation here:



Water Champions in the Asia-Pacific Region

Since 2008, the Asian Development Bank has published a series of stories about water champions working in the water sector in the Asia Pacific Region. Who are these water champions? They are people who work on the ground or in the policy world to directly improve the water sector in Asia-Pacific countries – and who have made a lasting difference through innovative means.  Recent interviews in the series include:

  • Zoran Vojinović, Associate Professor at the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, speaking about new, more holistic approaches for managing urban flood risks in the region;
  • Ravi Narayanan, co-author of Asian Water Development Outlook 2013, discussing the extent of water insecurity in the region, and the need to improve the three pillars of dealing with water insecurity – systems, capacities, and technologies;
  • Aabid Surti, well-known author and founder of the Drop Dead Foundation, an NGO that provides free-of-charge plumbing services to households in Mumbai, saving 414,000 liters of water in the first year of operation; and
  • Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International Social Service Organization, who turned his compassion for the scavengers of India (the untouchables whose job it was to empty bucket latrines) into his life’s work, first developing an effective composting toilet with biogas digester and then providing education and alternative job opportunities for the former scavengers and their children.

Each of the stories in the series tells the tale of an individual or organization inspired to solve a problem and stand as an example for how things could be and perhaps will be. These kinds of champions are the people that we are looking for to help us strengthen our community of practice.

Who are your champions for investments in watershed services?  Who do you think can make a difference in mainstreaming IWS into the toolbox of integrated water management solutions? Let us know.

Admin Analysis Community Relevant Research

The Water Initiative Needs YOU! – Market Research for “Scaling Up Investments in Watershed Services”

Another discussion that came out of last week’s Water Retreat was the need for the Water Initiative and Forest Trends to better understand the worldview of other actors in the water space.  Do water managers, civil engineers, and regulators see the looming water problems in the same way as we do? Or do they have other pressing concerns such as decaying infrastructure, shrinking budgets, and increasing demand? As we seek to scale up investments in watershed services and grow our community of practice, our group needs to understand what drives and motivates other actors in the space, so that we can talk to them in language they understand, to help them with problems that they have.

Over the next few weeks, the Water Initiative team will be conducting a series of interviews with stakeholders in a number of areas in the water sector – from IWS practitioners to development banks to oil and gas companies.  We will be asking them a range of questions to meet four objectives:

  1. Understand what interviewees see as the key issues for water management in their region, industry, or watershed;
  2. Understand to what extent interviewees are familiar with IWS/NI solutions and how they are effective in water management;
  3. Understand what the key barriers for increasing use of IWS/NI solutions to solve water problems are; and
  4. Understand where interviewees get their information from, who they see as key influencers, and what would encourage them to change their current watershed management strategies.

The goal of this exercise is to reach out beyond our circle of friends and see what the rest of the world looks like – so we need your help! Each of you has contacts out there that would be useful to use in answering our questions – and we want to interview them! In the next week, email me with your contacts from our key audiences – or fill out our easy-to-use form.

Who are we looking for?

  • People who could serve as champions for IWS
  • People who may not be involved in or proponents of IWS, but are knowledgeable about decision-making within their sector or region

Please take a few minutes to send us the name and organization of your contacts – so that we can reach our goals for IWS and Forest Trends together.