What is WISE-UP?

The WISE-UP to Climate -'Water Infrastructure Solutions from Ecosystem Services Underpinning Climate Resilient Policies and Programmes' - aims to demonstrate natural infrastructure as a ‘nature-based solution’ for climate change adaptation and sustainable development.

Water security is critical for sustainable economic development, poverty reduction and climate change adaptation. Ecosystem services therefore need to be linked more directly and clearly into water infrastructure development to achieve climate change adaptation and integration into water, food and energy security.

The project developed knowledge on how to use combinations of built water infrastructure (e.g. dams, levees, irrigation channels) together with natural infrastructure (e.g. wetlands, floodplains, watersheds) for poverty reduction, water-energy-food security, biodiversity conservation, and climate resilience.  WISE-UP demonstrated the advantages of combined built and natural infrastructure approaches using dialogue with decision-makers to agree acceptable trade-offs. The project started in 2013 and ran untill the end of 2017 with work focused in the Tana (Kenya) and Volta (Ghana-Burkina Faso) river basins.

Project Structure

Using the Tana and Volta as demonstration basins, the implementing partnership of WISE-UP brings together a multidisciplinary team of expertise. Its structure is highly interlinked – progress and outputs rely on collaboration between partners. Under the ecosystem infrastructure investment analysis, IWMI is exploring the eco-hydrological functions of built and natural infrastructure in the context of climate adaptation through a range of techniques, including modelling, ecosystem service mapping and the development of “benefit functions” linked to hydrological functions. BC3’s economic valuation work will assign monetary value to different system impacts and natural infrastructure investments. This information will faciliate analysis of the economic costs and benefits a ssociated with infrastructure, management and climate shifts. The University of Manchester’s river basin impact modelling and trade-off analysis integrates IWMI and BC3’s outputs to generate the set of best available (i.e. most efficient and robust) combined built and natural infrastructure investment options for an uncertain future. Each combination of built and natural infrastructure provides a different balance of benefits which is then represented graphically for stakeholders to discuss.

Future land use changes, population growth, irrigation expansion, planned infrastructure, and urban-rural demographic shifts to 2050 was taken into account in this work. The political economy research on decision logics and political drivers, complements the ecosystem infrastructure investment analysis by bringing a deeper understanding of why and how basin stakeholders make the investments decisions they do. This analysis allows the project to target the correct institutions and stakeholders (including brokers of information and networks of influence) that are key to more effective application of evidence and influence of change. The basin leads, WRI-CSIR and ACCESS, work alongside the other partners to help ground truth the research. They develop in-country skills and capacities for sharing results, aiming to strengthen understanding and ownership of data and tools under WISE-UP.

The Action Learning process, led by IUCN, engaged basin stakeholders directly from the start putting them in the driver’s seat to actively guide project research and direction. The process was designed to operate at the interface between the development of new scientific evidence and the identification of the political dynamics and economic drivers shaping decision making and policy. This is critical to better understand how to make information and innovative tools practical, useful and trusted – how to take science into policy circles and decision making processes. It helped us shape the future stages of research and field work, and allows WISE-UP to continually evaluate the relevance of its work.