In the initial years, delivery of services by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) was achieved through two key approaches, namely through Associated Programmes and through the fostering of Regional Water Partnerships. Regional Technical Advisory Committees (RTACs) acted as the start engines of GWP operations in most regions. RTACS comprised a group of handpicked individuals who had considerable clout in their countries and had a considerable amount of social capital.

The Southeast Asia region was one of the earliest regions to take-off with a GWP Regional Meeting on Water Resources Management for Southeast Asia held in Manila in June 1997. The 3-day meeting attended by some 90 water resources professionals from ASEAN countries, GWP, regional and international organizations including the ADB, and donor organisations adopted the MANILA STATEMENT, identifying priority areas for action in the region.  
In welcoming GWP, the meeting recognized the opportunities for countries in the region to work together, in order to achieve maximum impact from water resources development. Representatives from each country also saw IWRM as a solution to the problems they were facing back home. At that time many of those countries were developing rapidly and there was concern on how river basins were being managed.

The formation of a Southeast Asia Technical Advisory Committee (SEATAC) comprising initially of 8 selected experts from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam was seen as a first step towards the process of formation of a regional water partnership. Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic joined in 2000 and Myanmar joined in 2003.

At the first meeting of the SEATAC, it was stressed that for the individuals in the committee to have credibility back home, they needed to form national chapters in their own country that was recognized by their governments. It was felt there was a need for locus stand, so that they could have an impact in their own countries. It was agreed that the mission of the national chapters would be similar to GWP, i.e. to support sustainable water management at country level. It must be highlighted here that SEATAC was one of the first regions to advocate the setting up of Country Chapters, even though this was not supported by GWP initially, GWP wanted focus to be placed at the regional level. For SEATAC, the implementation of sustainable water resources management needed to be grounded at the National level. At its SEATAC meeting in Bangkok in 2002, SEATAC resolved that the region would proceed to form a Regional Water Partnership (RWP)   when at least 4 countries in the region have established a Country Water Partnership (CWP). 

Adopting this strategy, countries which had not yet set up own CWP proceeded to set up own national level water partnerships. When a critical mass of some four countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, and Vietnam) had successfully formed their national water partnerships, the Region started to work towards forming a RWP.        

The GWP-SEA regional water partnership was born in the year 2004, GWP-SEA RWP was formed to take over SEATAC’s role in the region. The SEATAC was discontinued, having completed its catalytic role at the end of Dec 2003. Prof Angel Alejandrino from the Philippines was the first SEATAC Chair. Thailand became the SEATAC Chair for 2 years, January 2002- December 2003. Dr Apichart Anukularmpai was the SEATAC Chair. 

After SEATAC ceased in Dec 2003, a new GWP-SEA Secretariat was formed in Kuala Lumpur (KL) from 2004. In January 2007 the Regional Secretariat was moved to Jakarta. The Regional Sec Office is provided for by the Department of Public Works, and is in the same office complex