Aerial shot ot turquoise fresh water lake in Ontario Canada bordered by green trees


Human activity—from pollutants to climate change—is threatening the health of our planet's precious freshwater resources.

That's where we come in.

Just as our fresh water flows across borders, our work stretches across nation and sectors. 

IISD can influence how we manage fresh water like no other think tank on earth, because we create scientific understanding of fresh water at our very own freshwater science facility, which then informs the policy recommendations developed by our team of policy analysts. 

In other words, we truly bridge science and policy. 

First the science. 

IISD Experimental Lakes Area is the world’s freshwater laboratory.

A series of 58 lakes and their watersheds in northwestern Ontario, Canada, IISD-ELA is the only place in the world where scientists can experiment on and manipulate real lakes to build a more accurate and complete picture of what human activity is doing to freshwater lakes. The findings from its over 50 years of ground-breaking research have rewritten environmental policy around the world—from mitigating algal blooms to reducing how much mercury gets into our waterways—and aim to keep fresh water clean around the world for generations to come. 

Then comes the policy. 

We then take those scientific findings, and develop policy and programming solutions for governments, civil society, and industry that protect and enhance the natural environment, keep our fresh water clean, while also improving socioeconomic well-being.  

We conduct economic analyses and hydrologic assessments so that governments best understand all the options before making final decisions. And we support the management of watersheds across national boundaries, bringing all the relevant sectors and stakeholders to the table.