Environmental Incentives
Environmental Incentives

Program Design

Founded in science, tailored to community needs

Regulators and donors are striving to meet conservation goals in an increasingly complex climate of environmental and community needs. Approaches that work in one setting may fail in another, and programs that remain stagnant risk becoming outdated and ineffective in our changing world. A clear understanding of the problem at hand and the system in which it operates is the foundation for creating enduring and effective solutions.


farmer fixes his wire fencing demonstrating the importance of maintaining and using programs

Programs are only useful if they are used

Designing a program with the end users in mind ensures that their unique needs are met. By balancing program rigor with user experience, scientifically-sound best practices can be implemented on the ground.

a group of people try to collaborate to achieve a universal goal

Diverse perspectives create solutions

Engaging diverse stakeholders in the design process builds understanding of the opportunities and constraints for each environmental problem. This allows for alignment of funding, conservation actions, and intended outcomes up front.


running an infrared test showing the importance of testing early and test often

Test early and often

Testing assumptions and concepts early in the design process allows for the flexibility to make programmatic changes. This iterative structure helps align program actions with desired outcomes.


View of the world with aviation lines overlaid on it.

Explore and Understand the Landscape

Successful programs tackle the root of a problem. By first understanding the needs, opportunities, and enabling conditions of a region, we help clients identify common goals, objectives, and methods for tracking progress. We use the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation and other tools to describe the theory of change for each conservation program.

a man selling fish at a fish marked showing appropriate program goals are good for everyone.

Outcomes-Based Design

Working toward defined program goals, we build approaches that account for stakeholder needs while incorporating scientific, regulatory, and technical knowledge. We design methodologies to understand program success and create practical financial tools so organizations have capacity to successfully implement their programs.

an environmentalist explains the importance of testing assumptions

Testing and Adapting

We support programs during the pilot phase to test assumptions, processes, and adapt. This critical process not only enhances program success but also builds confidence and support from partners, regulators, and participants.



view of california farmland with 2 oak trees

Growing Habitat in California’s Breadbasket

We worked with the Environmental Defense Fund to create the Central Valley Habitat Exchange—a conservation program that pays farmers for improving endangered species habitat on their land. By working closely with farmers, environmental groups, and state agencies in the design process, this program tackles the regions’ diverse economic and ecological needs.


Environmental Incentives has filled a critical role on our team as we design and implement the Central Valley Habitat Exchange. Their expertise in stakeholder engagement and facilitation, program design grounded in rigorous analysis, and long-term strategy development has kept our efforts on track for success.”

Ann Hayden, Environmental Defense Fund

Talk to Our Experts


Katie Riley
Senior Associate

Kathleen Flower, Ph.D.

Kathleen Flower, Ph.D.
Evidence and Learning Team Lead/ Measuring Impact II