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GEF Action on Water. Transboundary Freshwater Basins, Aquifers and Marine Ecosystems. Major Threats to International Waters-Transboundary Systems. Degradation of Water Quality Habitat Destruction-excessive withdrawals, wetland conversion, dam releases Overexploitation of Fish/Living Resources

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Transboundary Freshwater Basins, Aquifers and Marine Ecosystems

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GEF Action on Water

Transboundary Freshwater Basins, Aquifers and Marine Ecosystems

Major Threats to International Waters-Transboundary Systems

  • Degradation of Water Quality

  • Habitat Destruction-excessive withdrawals, wetland conversion, dam releases

  • Overexploitation of Fish/Living Resources

  • Land Degradation/Sedimentation

  • Introduced Species– ship ballast water, fish, cholera, red tide organisms

  • Groundwater Quality, Quantity, Recharge Areas

  • Balancing Basin Uses/Conflicts

IW Conventions and Programs of Action

  • Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (1971) 

  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78)

  • The Nairobi, Abidjan, Barcelona, Bucharest, Cartagena, Jeddah, Kuwait, Lima, Noumea, Guatemala Conventions (UNEP Regional Seas Programme - 1974-2002)

  • Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (1979)

  • UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS - 1982)

  • Bellagio Draft Agreement Concerning the Use of Transboundary Groundwaters (1987)

  • UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC - 1991)

IW Conventions andPrograms of Action

  • UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD - 1992)

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD - 1994)

  • Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island States (1994)

  • UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (1995)

  • Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (1995)

  • Jakarta Mandate on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity (1995)

  • UN Convention on Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (1997)

  • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs - 2001)

GEF support to international

agreements (#of projects)

GEF Comprehensive,Ecosystem- Based Approach to IW

  • The goal: Maintaining the integrity of ecosystems and of the services they provide. The GEF Strategy:

  • Promotes Actions To Address the Multiple Concerns Facing Transboundary Systems that Focus on Changing the Way Human Activities are Conducted in Different Economic Sectors: (a) policy, legal, and institutional reforms nationally and regionally & (b) investments.

  • Helps Governments to Balance Competing Uses, and encourages moving from sectoral (supply, sanitation, irrigation; freshwater basins Vs coastal zones, etc.) to cross-sectoral integrated approaches to water management.

  • Promotes coordination among donors and the leveraging of Partner Programs.

GEF Operational Strategy For IW

  • Foundational Work: Support for Initial Strategic Capacity Building For Multicountry Basin-specific or Marine Ecosystem-specific Collaboration – creation of inter-ministerial committees; transboundary diagnostic (TDA), agreement on a Strategic Action Program (SAP)

  • Stress Reduction Measures: based on an agreed SAP, GEF may support a “SAP Implementation Project”, including national reforms, demonstration investments for transboundary priorities, regional institution-building

Key Elements of Foundational Work in Multi-country Water-bodies

  • Establishment of National and Multi-country Interministerial Committees as main decision making bodies

  • Achievemnet of informed consensus among riparian/littoral countries through a science based Analysis of Transboundary Water Concerns (TDA): identify problems and their causes, (discriminating domestic versus transboundary); identify possible solutions.

  • Agreement on Actions: inter-ministerial committees agree on what reforms and investments, needed to solve transboundary concerns nationally and regionally, they are willing to undertake and governments formally adopt a Strategic Action Program.

Stress Reduction Measures: the GEF Role

  • GEF will facilitate changes in behaviors through reforms (policies, laws, institutions) at the local, national and regional levels.

  • GEF will help leverage investments for on the ground interventions through strategic partnerships.

  • GEF will support projects that will demonstrate on the ground the beneficial impacts of new approaches and technologies.

  • GEF will strengthen regional institutions and processes.

GEF International Waters

Strategy and Indicators

Process Indicators

Stress Reduction Indicators

Environmental Status Indicators

Foundational Work:

Capacity building

Establishment of processes


of Causes and Solutions

Agreement on Action Programs

Stress Reduction Measures

Implementation of

Strategic Action Programs:

Legal, policy and

Institutional reforms



Agreement on


Long Term


GEF International Waters Projects - May 2003

IW projects in Africa

IW projects in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

IW projects in East Asia

IW projects in Central America and the Caribbean

IW projects in South America

more information?

IW-LEARN is a GEF Project

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