GIWA in brief - English version

UNEPGEFUniversity of Kalmar
The aim of GIWA is to produce a comprehensive and integrated global assessment of international waters, the ecological status of and the causes of environmental problems in 66 water areas in the world, and focus on the key issues and problems facing the aquatic environment in transboundary waters.
GIWA Broschure GIWA Brochure [PDF-file 1,3Mb]
An illustrated brochure with readily comprehensible information about GIWA.

  • GIWA means the Global International Waters Assessment.

  • GIWA is a water programme led by the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP.

  • GIWA is funded to about 50 per cent by the Global Environment Facility, GEF. Other major donors are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Finnish Department for International Development Co-operation, and the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (Sida).

  • Global assessments have already been made on biodiversity, climate change, and the ozone layer (stratospheric ozone) for the purpose of supporting the implementation of the GEF project portfolio in these areas. GIWA is intended as a comparable assessement in support of the implementation of the international waters component of GEF.

  • GIWA has been working since 1999. Its main executing agency is Kalmar University in Sweden, where the GIWA Core Team and Co-ordination Office is located.

  • The objective is to produce a comprehensive and integrated global assessment of international waters. It is to be a systematic assessment of the environmental conditions and problems in international waters, comprising marine, coastal and freshwater areas, and surface waters as well as ground waters.

  • The overall objective of GIWA is to develop a comprehensive strategic assessment that may be used by GEF and its partners to identify priorities for remedial and mitigatory actions in international waters, designed to achieve significant environmental benefits at national, regional and global levels.

  • GIWA is designed not merely to analyze the current problems and their societal root causes, but to develop scenarios of the future condition of the world's water resources and analyze policy options.

  • Ultimately, the aim is to provide sound scientific advice to decision-makers and managers concerned with water resources and dealing with environmental problems and threats to transboundary water bodies.

  • GIWA is focusing on 66 transboundary water areas worldwide. The assessment does therefore include marine water areas, surface freshwater areas, and groundwater.

  • GIWA is focusing on five major problem areas, including 23 specific environmental and socio-economic problems. Causal chain analyses is an essential tool used to identify and better understand the links between perceived problems and their societal root causes.

"Seas, lakes, wetlands, rivers, groundwater basins etc. do not only provide us with water for all human purposes. They also constitute life-support systems, which provide us with fundamental ecological and other services. The character of our planet, physically as well as biologically, is shaped by water. Without water all life ceases.

Even though man is dependent of water in a broad sense, we have degraded aquatic environments and mismanaged aquatic resources at a global scale. Pollution, destruction of habitats, overutilization of living resources etc. threaten the future development of human societies, especially in developing countries. Water issues therefore play an important and increasing role in international development co-operation. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has designated International Waters as one of its four focal areas. GIWA is providing the information needed for GEF's work in this area.

Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP, when announcing the start of GIWA, stated that "the lack of an International Waters Assessment has been a unique and serious impediment to the implementation of on-the-ground action since there exists no basis on which to identify areas of global priority for intervention."

Dr. Töpfer also noted: "Comparable to the assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Global Biodiversity Assessment, and the Stratospheric Ozone Assessment, spearheaded by UNEP, the Global International Waters Assessment will provide the intellectual leadership in dealing with global environmental problems and threats plaguing transboundary water bodies."

GIWA is a worldwide assessment but is mainly executed in 66 subregions. It is to a great extent based on the many studies, which exist or are ongoing at various levels. Close co-operative links to all relevant bodies and activities, constituting the global GIWA network, has been established, encompassing exchange of data, co-ordination of programmes, joint activities etc. Duplication of work must be avoided. A well-designed network and an active participation of relevant organisations in all sub-regions is two preconditions for a successful implementation of GIWA.

Global International Waters Assessment, GIWA
SE- 391 82 Kalmar, Sweden
Phone: +46- 480 44 60 00. Fax: +46- 480 44 73 55.

page last modified on 22 August 2006