» Leading the Way to International Water Cooperation
17.10.2011 - Natural Sciences Sector

Leading the Way to International Water Cooperation

The Sixth GEF Biennial International Waters Conference (Dubrovnik, Croatia, 17-20 October 2011) will be an active training and experience-sharing event during which the participants will not only sum up the progress achieved but also will look into the future of programming within and beyond the focal area.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters (IW) focal area targets transboundary water systems, such as shared river basins, lakes, groundwater and large marine ecosystems. International Waters is a GEF Focal Area where significant results have already been achieved in cooperation with UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP) on groundwater resources, and with the Intergovernemental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO-IOC) on marine issues.

The GEF Global Groundwater Community of Practice (CoP), coordinated and facilitated by UNESCO-IHP, will be launched during the conference. An Ecosystem Project Site Visit to Trebišnjica River and Dinaric Karst was also organized jointly by IOC and IHP on the second day of the conference.

Wendy Watson-Wright, Assistant Director General and Executive Secretary, UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, will give an address on ‘The UNESCO-GEF Partnership – Leading the Way to International Water Cooperation’ during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the GEF’s establishment.

Since 1999, the GEF has actively worked to fill the gap in its GEF International Waters Focal Area and project portfolio relating to groundwater and aquifers. Within this context, UNESCO has assisted the GEF in the formulation of a conceptual framework for strategic action on groundwater and transboundary aquifers, and in the establishment of a portfolio of groundwater projects addressing key global resources and issues. UNESCO has been acting as Executing Agency on behalf of UNDP and UNEP in a growing number of important projects, and is now applying to become a GEF Project Agency.

This anniversary is an opportunity to take stock of the results and impacts of the GEF International waters portfolio after 20 years and assess future challenges to raise the bar for the next 20 years. Essential focus areas include sustaining a global effort in providing robust, periodic assessments of the state of the marine environment to address emerging issues, such as ocean acidification; addressing the particular vulnerabilities of Small Island Developping States (SIDS); and restoring habitat and biodiversity values.

The projects where UNESCO co-leads/co-executes/collaborates include:

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