Freshwater Assessments

National monitoring programs are essential for water resources planning and economic and environmental decision making. The monitoring and assessment function of GEMS/Water is driven by the requirement for a consistent international database that can produce a variety of global and regional assessments by water- related agencies.

Water Quality for Ecosystem and Human Health is a new introductory publication available in PDF format.

Water Quality for Ecosystem and Human Health, 2nd edition (PDF)
To order a hard copy of the report, please email

GEMS/Water data have contributed to:


Study Report on Persistent Organochlorine Pollutants (POPs)
A study commissioned by the UNEP GEMS/Water Programme in support of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities.

Water Quality Monitoring and Management "Modernization Issues for Developing Countries"
A collection of three papers on modernization issues in the science and practice of monitoring and management of water quality, especially as these affect developing countries.

Pollution Remediation Planning in Developing Countries: Conventional Modelling Versus Knowledge-Based Prediction.
This paper is developed from 10 years of experience in the GEMS/Water programme. It deals with the dilemma of developing policy and management decisions in data-poor environments that are typical of developing countries.

Water Quality Management: Design, Financing and Sustainability Considerations
This paper reflects experiences in the GEMS/Water programme and was presented at the invitation of the World Bank at the African Water policy Conference held May 26-28 in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting was supported by the World Bank, UNEP, the Global Water Partnerships, and other national donors

Global Water Pollution: Challenges and Opportunities
At the 1972 Stockholm Conference on Environment, the world community called for a standing watch on global trends in key environmental sectors. From this concern grew the United Nations "Global Environment Monitoring System" (GEMS). Surface and groundwater quality is one component (GEMS/Water). Global patterns of surface water pollution have been summarized by GEMS for the UNCED process.

Redesign and Modernization of the Mexican Water Quality Monitoring Network
Mexico is a large developing country, much of which is arid and semiarid. With a population of more than 81 million Mexico is confronted with growing water scarcity and serious pollution of much of its surface water. The National Water Commission (Comisión Nacional del Agua -- CNA) has embarked on a major program of modernization of water management.

Matching Water Quality Programs to Management Needs in Developing Countries
Developing countries face an array of traditional and modern water quality problems -- from faecal contamination to toxic chemicals. Moreover, they do so in an economic environment that is severely restricted, an institutional environment which is often poorly structured, and for which the modern scientific knowledge base is frequently poorly understood and applied.