The core mandate of WLRC is initiating and undertaking research for development in land and water resources, which it delivers through four functions: i) Hydro-sedimentology and Climate Change Research; ii) Integrated Water and Land Resource Management and Ecosystem Service Research; iii) Resource Governance and Socio-Economic Research; and iv) Knowledge Management and Outreach Services. Through its components, WLRC has been playing instrumental roles in generating scientific evidence for the development of Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) and Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) strategies and activities in the country and beyond.
Its core functions in its current form have been supported by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) of Switzerland through bilateral agreement with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Commission of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia signed in 2011. WLRC aims to contribute to the reduction of land degradation and water pollution and depletion, and improving land productivity through generating, sharing and managing knowledge on sustainable land and water management in Ethiopia, Eastern Africa and Eastern Nile Basin regions. It has the following vision, missions and values.