The following guidance around goal-setting has been provided to assist with the challenging process of establishing meaningful, clear, and measurable goals for Water Funds.

Why is goal setting for Water Funds important?

Goal-setting serves as an important mechanism facilitating a shared vision between stakeholders, as well as for achieving observable and measurable results within specific time-frames. They help stakeholders of a Water Fund to clearly understand the direction they are going and how they might make meaningful contributions. 

Without clear goals and objectives, Water Funds cannot determine what they are trying to achieve or whether they have been successful in achieving it. Monitoring is critical for assessing progress towards goals,identifying obstacles, adapting the approach, and highlighting successes

Goals should be meaningful, clear, and measurable.

  1. Meaningful

    Does the goal express a level of achievement that makes a difference to biota, water security, and/or benefits to people?

  2. Clear

    Is the goal stated in a way that is directly linked to the actions being taken in the watershed?

  3. Measurable

    Can progress towards the goal be directly measured over time? State the indicators that would be used for a given goal.

Common goals for Water Funds:

  • Goals for Water Security

    Water Security Goals define the current issues for water security and the goals for future desired status, in the long–term. It typically makes sense to have a range of long-term goal horizons, with more aspirational or difficult to achieve goals further out.
  • Goals for Ecosystem Services and Function Goals

    Ecosystem Services and Function Goals define long-term and short-term goals for maintenance or restoration of the freshwater ecosystems serving as water supply sources in order to achieve the goals for water security defined above. This will require evaluating relationships between ecosystem benefits, services, and functions.
  • Goals for Biodiversity

    Biodiversity Goals define long –term and short-term goals for biodiversity in order to ensure that actions in water funds are achieving benefits for both people and nature. These goals should influence the types and spatial arrangement of actions, and not just be byproducts of them as planned for addressing water security. Goals can include protection and/or restoration of habitats, but not as implementation goals per se, which should be generated after priority actions and spatial arrangements are defined.
  • Goals for Co-Benefits

    Goals for Co-Benefits define goals for additional services and benefits such as carbon sequestration, flood risk reduction, local community benefits, etc. as desired to meet established local and national goals, and/or contribute to international commitments (such as Sustainable Development Goals).


What is the difference between a goal and an objective?

Goal example: Water Fund might set a water security goal of “5% reduction in water supply disruptions by 2022” in the short-term and “no water supply disruptions over a period of at least 3 years by 2040” in the long-term. 

Objective example: a Water Fund might set an objective to “restore and/or protect 500 hectares of priority riparian habitat in the Big River Watershed by the end of 2017

A Closer Look: Time Horizons

  1. Long-term Goals (6-30 years)

    Long-term goals define what a water fund is intending to ultimately achieve (e.g. impact at scale). The process of simply establishing long-term goals is useful for developing a shared vision between stakeholders, and in fact improving overall governance of the source watersheds may be a key outcome and benefit of the water fund. Once the long-term goals have been defined, the design of the types and spatial arrangements of actions for a water fund to sufficiently address issues that are the causes of current or future challenges to water security becomes clearer.

  2. Short-term Goals (2-5 years)

    Short-term goals focus on early outcomes (on smaller scales) to make sure the water fund is on track to meet its long-term goals, which are ultimately the outcomes the water fund was designed for. In general terms, a medium-term goal is structured around producing a desired result at relatively small scale, such as the microwatershed level.

  3. Implementation Objectives

    Once long-term and short-term goals are defined, implementation objectives should be established as part of annual or longer-term work plans. Implementation objectives help create milestones for action that will ensure delivery of outcomes and allow the water fund to plan for and obtain needed funds for the intended time-frame.