The Stockholm Environment Institute is an international not-for-profit research organization that has been engaged in environment and development issues at local, national, regional and global policy levels for 25 years.
Our goal is to bring about change for sustainable development by bridging science and policy. We do this by conducting integrated analysis that supports decision-makers.
SEI's work is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing upon engineering, economics, ecology, ethics, operations research, international relations and software design.
We work all around the world building capacity for integrated sustainability planning through training and collaboration on projects.
SEI's Water Evaluation And Planning system
From shrinking glaciers, to wetlands and floodplains: WEAP 2015
Recent SEI projects have added major new features to the water systems modelling software and made it up to 100 times faster; now these enhancements are available to users worldwide.
Twenty-five years ago, SEI published the first version of its Water Evaluation And Planning (WEAP) system. Year after year, the software kept evolving and expanding, adding new features as SEI helped policy-makers and planners tackle ever more complex challenges.
Several U.S. government agencies, the United Nations, the World Bank, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and many others have funded key enhancements. In 2001–05, for example, for a major project for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, SEI added land use change and climate scenario modelling, which would become crucial for water resources, development and adaptation planning.
Today, WEAP is used by planners and researchers around the world. More than 40 WEAP-based studies were published last year alone – and the WEAP user forum has more than 18,000 members. Free one-year licenses to nonprofit, governmental or academic organizations based in developing countries have brought powerful analytical tools to users who could not otherwise afford them.
And through SEI research and capacity-building projects, WEAP capabilities continue to grow. In August, developer Jack Sieber, deputy director of SEI's U.S. Center, released a major new update of WEAP that brings together multiple enhancements made for recent SEI projects:
• A new tool to model glacier shrinkage and growth and its impact on water systems, developed through SEI work in the Andes;;p;>
• Capacity to analyze the impacts of changes in streamflow due to human activities (e.g. building a dam, deforestation) on ecosystems, through the integration of The Nature Conservancy's Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration – the result of a collaboration in Colombia;
• Modelling of the complex interactions between wetlands, river networks and floodplains, with improved understanding of flood risks – also a result of the Colombia project;
• Much faster processing, up to 100 times faster for some models, making it easier to work with very large models with many scenarios – an improvement that greatly helped the California State Water Board in its use of WEAP for statewide water planning.
Those are the highlights; the full list includes more than upgrades and fixes; in addition, WEAP 2015 is compatible with the recently released Windows 10. The update is free to all licensed users.
"Managing water resources sustainably requires understanding a lot of complex interactions, weighing many different factors, and grappling with significant uncertainties," says Sieber. "That is why WEAP is designed to be flexible, easy to expand and connect with other tools – so users can adapt it to their specific setting. We expect these new features to be useful to analysts all around the world, in both developed and developing countries."