Environmental Focal Area: International Waters
The GEF international waters focal area targets transboundary water systems, such as river basins with water flowing from one country to another, groundwater resources shared by several countries, or marine ecosystems bounded by more than one nation. Some of the issues addressed are:
- transboundary water pollution
- over-extraction of groundwater resources
- unsustainable exploitation of fisheries
- protection of fisheries habitats
- invasive species
- balancing competing uses of water resources
Because water does not respect national boundaries, multicountry actions are necessary to foster sustainable development of these large systems which cover most of the earth. The GEF helps countries to collaborate with their neighbors to modify human activities that place stress on these transboundary water systems and interfere with downstream uses of those resources. In this way, water use conflicts can be prevented, security improved, and sustainable resource use fostered in support of global goals.
GEF international waters projects help countries to deal with concerns in all types of transboundary water systems, ranging from river basins, lake basins, and groundwater systems, to coasts and large marine ecosystems where most fisheries are harvested, to the open ocean.
The focal area supports projects that help countries:
- Learn to work together on their key transboundary concerns
- Set priorities for joint action
- Implement those actions if a political commitment to sustainability is shown
The GEF plays a catalytic role in helping nations making full use of policy, legal, and institutional reforms and investments necessary to address these complex concerns about transboundary water resources.
International Waters and International Conventions
Although GEF’s international waters focal area does not serve as a financial mechanism for a specific convention, it is associated with many global and regional conventions that are involved with transboundary water systems, mostly at a regional level. GEF interventions are often associated with adopting regional conventions as a show of the government’s commitment to sustainability after the GEF project ends. For example, the Convention on the Sustainable Management of Lake Tanganyika and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention have resulted from GEF international waters projects.
Learning among International Waters Projects
To stimulate and facilitate exchange of experiences and lessons learned among different international waters projects, GEF initiated a specific project — IW:LEARN. The project organizes staff exchanges between projects that face similar challenges (e.g., large marine ecosystem projects), forums to stimulate collaboration between international waters projects in a particular region (e.g., the Caribbean), and structured learning events on particular themes. To further increase the South-to-South exchange of experiences, an international waters conference is organized every two years to bring together country representatives from all GEF international waters projects.
>> read more from the GEF website at http://www.GEFweb.org on INTERNATIONAL WATERS
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