What is the Network?

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) is a global action network with over 3,000 Partner organisations in 183 countries. The network has 86 Country Water Partnerships and 13 Regional Water Partnerships.

The network is open to all organisations involved in water resources management: developed and developing country government institutions, agencies of the United Nations, bi- and multi-lateral development banks, professional associations, research institutions, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector.

GWP's action network provides knowledge and builds capacity to improve water management at all levels: global, regional, national and local. GWP does not operate alone. Its networking approach provides a mechanism for coordinated action and adds value to the work of many other key development partners.

We are an ‘on-the-ground’ network that mobilises government, civil society, and the commercial sector to engage with each other to solve water problems.

Usually those problems stem from the demands of competing water users so it’s about how to manage, or govern, the resource itself. Our focus is on improving the way water is managed across sectors – it’s called the integrated approach.

Our comparative advantage is a large and diverse multi-stakeholder network that can deploy 20 years of knowledge and experience in applying the cross-sectoral integrated water resources management approach to sustainable development.

We’ve succeeded when water is managed sustainably while at the same time maximising social and economic welfare.

So what?

Water is the cornerstone of human health and economic development. GWP wants people to have clean water to lead healthy lives, we want communities protected from water-related threats, and we want to harness the productive power of water for sustainable development while protecting vital ecosystems.

None of that will happen unless we talk about good governance — having water policies, laws, financing, and institutions that are transparent, coherent, inclusive, and integrated across sectors. That’s why we advocate for the application of an integrated approach to water resources management (IWRM). Sustainable Development Goal #6 (on water) has adopted this approach and GWP has a 20-year track record in helping countries make it a reality.

What makes us special?

Good water governance isn’t going to happen unless there is an all-of-society involvement. That takes a credible, neutral, experienced multi-stakeholder network. We’ve got 3,000-plus institutional Partners in more than 180 countries. We have 85 Country Water Partnerships. And we have 13 Regional Water Partnerships spanning the developing world and emerging economies. This combined platform embodies a core GWP belief: that only when a broad range of stakeholders work together will we change water management for the better.

We advocate

GWP Partners – locally, regionally, and globally – work to make water a top policy priority. We don’t shy away from addressing the trade-offs between different water uses. Putting the issues firmly on the table means stakeholders can consider all perspectives when taking tough decisions about managing and using water sustainably. As a network with many stakeholders from many sectors, GWP has a 'convening power' that makes dialogue possible and can help bring about changes to policies, laws, and institutions.

We build capacity

Advocacy alone, is not enough. Decision-makers and institutions must acquire the attitudes and skills needed for a behavioural change to manage water effectively. Building capacity can range from supporting dialogues on participatory approaches, workshops (e.g., on financing, flood management, and international water law), and working with parliamentarians, women organizations, and urban planners.

We communicate knowledge

To build capacity, knowledge is required. GWP technical papers, from background papers to policy briefs, tackle issues ranging from effective water governance to water efficiency. The GWP IWRM ToolBox is an online knowledge centre for water management. GWP also draws on the expertise of Partners to link science and technology with policy and practice.

We support countries in better water management

Managing water sustainably requires commitment at the highest political level – when political leaders listen to people, make the tough decisions about water policy, and follow through with investments and implementation. GWP’s comparative advantage is the combination of technical expertise and convening power to bring together diverse stakeholders who contribute to the change processes that help bring the vision of a water secure world closer to reality.

Agenda 2030

All people, economies, and ecosystems depend on water. Yet water is often taken for granted, overused, abused, and poorly managed. The way we use and manage water leaves a considerable part of the global population without access, and threatens the integrity of ecosystems that are vital for a healthy planet.

Water insecurity keeps millions of people in poverty; it hampers human development and is a drag on economic growth. Water insecurity is worsened by population growth, economic growth, urbanisation, conflicts, and climate change. Such trends increase competition over water and put water resources at risk, just as water presents risks to growth and society if not managed sustainably.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed by 193 countries at the UN General Assembly in September 2015 recognises these trends and calls for an “all-of-society engagement and partnership” to address development challenges in a transformative and inclusive way, with the intention of “leaving no one behind.” At the core of the 2030 Agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets.

Poverty reduction and growth are not possible without good water governance and management. Sustainable Development Goal No. 6 – “to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” is inextricably linked to and mutually dependent on most other goals, including poverty reduction, gender equality, climate, food, energy, health, cities, and ecosystems.

SDG 6 provides a high level political commitment to an integrated approach to water security. Target 6.5 is the denominator that GWP Partners in all their diversity have in common: “By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate”. The integrated water resources management approach that GWP has helped embed into policy-making worldwide calls for a need to tackle trade-offs and establish cooperation based on a fair and efficient allocation of water resources. Inclusive water governance is the key that connects multiple targets within Goal 6 as well as with other relevant goals and targets, especially to Goal 17, Means of Implementation.