Knowledge Syntheses



Sometimes our greatest barrier to accessing the knowledge we need is making sense of its sheer volume. Everyday, as foundation and nonprofit staff make tough programmatic and investment decisions, they ask the question, “what do we already know about this?” The good news is that much of what we know is actually contained in the very reports, case studies, and evaluations that IssueLab collects.

Our Knowledge Synthesis service is designed to leverage existing, practice-based knowledge, surfacing important insights and evidence from organizations around the world.

We work closely with organizations in defining their research question, systematically searching for relevant literature addressing those questions, and extracting and summarizing important lessons. We then make the results of that work available through openly licensed and publicly available reports, visualizations, and fully searchable digital collections.

Here are a couple of examples of completed knowledge synthesis projects:


Freshwater is one of our most precious and valuable resources. And yet, we already see clear signs of its over-exploitation across the globe. One approach to reducing pressure on water resources has been the use of incentive-based instruments, which use financial means to motivate parties towards better managing both the quantity and quality of freshwater. This synthesis aims to understand their full potential, and limitations.




Worldwide, small-scale coastal fisheries contribute significantly to providing food, employment, and incomes to many very poor people. But these same fisheries, and the ecosystems upon which they rely, are under increasing threat from a combination of climate change, pollution, over-fishing, and the exploitation of resources. The potential of fisheries, if managed well, is considerable but what form that potential will take will depend on how and why fisheries are managed.

This collection of reports and presentations describes some of the challenges faced by small-scale fisheries worldwide and their efforts to address these challenges and improve the health and well-being of the people who are dependent on these threatened environments.


Join other foundations and nonprofits who already work with IssueLab to better manage, synthesize, and share their knowledge. Contact us to tell us more about your project needs.