Stephanie Malyon/CIAT.


WLE tackles some of the greatest challenges today: reducing poverty, improving health and nutrition, addressing water security and land degradation, and ensuring inclusive and equitable growth.  We seek to find out how we can ensure that agricultural intensification and productivity increases are accomplished in ways that are sustainable and make use of the services provided by ecosystems.

A woman waters crops in Ghana.
Joe Ronzio/IWMI.

Our ecosystem services-based approach

WLE’s ecosystem services-based approach is comprised of the following areas of work:

Characterizing ecosystem services and functions

WLE works across a range of agro-ecosystems and landscapes, including the peri-urban/rural interface, degraded agrarian lands and deltas and floodplains. Our research considers livelihoods, productivity, markets and biophysical concerns to find new ways to sustainably intensify agriculture while maintaining ecosystem functions.

Understanding benefits and beneficiaries

WLE research explores the spatial and temporal benefits and costs associated with specific interventions and actions. We are developing tools to measure ecosystem service flows and assess how different development approaches influence ecosystem services that benefit the poor. In addition, our research examines how benefits are shared across a given area and between different stakeholders in any given landscape.

Analyzing opportunities and trade-offs

WLE assesses the opportunities and trade-offs of different investment decisions in the context of rapid economic development, population growth, urbanization and increasing climate variability. In this way, the costs, benefits and risks associated with development are considered within local contexts.

Working across scales and sectors

WLE works at multiple scales (farm, landscape, basin) and across sectors (land, water, food, energy) to develop new insights and empirical evidence that demonstrates how actions at different levels/sectors interact and affect ecosystem services and gender equality. We also evaluate the effects of farmer level/pilot level work to see how that will have impacts beyond the farm boundary and across scales.

Incorporating gender and equity

WLE seeks to improve gender and equity dynamics in environmental and agricultural systems. We are determined to ensure that women have greater decision-making power and receive more benefits from agriculture and natural resources; this is central to our vision of sustainable agricultural intensification and ecosystem management.

Ensuring innovation and impact

WLE links its research to changes from the farm to policy and investment levels. WLE works in specific geographical areas to demonstrate that through the co-development of solutions with communities and implementing partners, ecosystem services-based approaches are equitable and economically viable at scale. WLE develops scalable solutions such as business models, new tools, products and innovative financing incentives that can spur private and public sector actors to invest for impact.