Background papers

Technical Background Papers on water resources management in various languages, written by the GWP Technical Committee.


Measuring transboundary water cooperation: options for Sustainable Development Goal Target 6.5, No. 23 (2017)


This paper aims to provide guidance on SDG Indicator 6.5.2 as monitoring and implementation plans are being developed. To do this, we examine how operational arrangements can be defined by evaluating three methods for calculating the indicator through both a procedural and a substantive perspective, and identifying the limitations and advantages.
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Increasing Water Security: the Key to Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, No. 22 (2016)

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Water features in almost all the 17 Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) in the UN’s new development agenda up to 2030. Embedding water in this way demonstrates its central role in all aspects of development and its importance to achieving the SDGs. This GWP Technical Committee Background Paper is a timely response this development and reviews the IWRM approach and its evolution over the past 25 years towards increasing water security – its successes and disappointments.
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Promoting Effective Water Management Cooperation among Riparian Nations, No. 21 (2015)

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This paper argues that we need more refined measures of effective cooperation and examples to provide nations with possible models to adapt to a specific basin. Cooperation of basin-shared nations for cooperation’s sake will not necessarily provide the benefits needed. Benefits must be measurable. Some benefits, such as shared hydropower revenues or a firm allocation, will be immediately measurable; others such as restoration of ecosystem services will take more time to measure. Measurable cooperation benefits generally require a legal framework.
                                              Read: English

Water Security: Putting the Concept into Practice, No.20 (2014)

 The paper (961 KB) debates that water security can never be fully achieved, because ever-changing physical and economic conditions will require the continuous adaptation of water systems and behaviors in order to meet the growing demands and changing climatological conditions. The authors suggest two approaches to increasing water security: the developmental approach seeking to increase water security over time and the risk-based approach focusing on managing risks and reducing vulnerabilities resulting from climate variability and water-related disasters.


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Groundwater Governance and Irrigated Agriculture, No. 19 (2014)

 The paper (587 KB) provides an excellent overview of the global groundwater economy and assesses the opportunities it offers for irrigated agriculture and also the risks it poses for depleting and degrading aquifer systems. A review of the various ‘groundwater governance models’ suggests that while each has merit, none can claim to have achieved the sustainable use of groundwater. The authors emphasize that the socio-ecological and political environment is critical in determining the elements of an appropriate groundwater governance regime.


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The Economic Value of Moving Toward a More Water Secure World, No. 18 (2013)

Background paper #18

 In a period where public financial resources are particularly limited, how do we prioritize investments in water security?  Which aspects are most critical for enabling growth?  What are the most significant investments needed to increase water security?  And how can economics inform policy-makers who must decide how to allocate resources to the management of water? This paper (2,2MB) provides an excellent synthesis of current thinking about these complex issues and provide guidance about what is to be done.

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International Law - Facilitating Transboundary Water Cooperation, No. 17 (2013)

Background paper #17

 The paper (2,52 MB) explores how international law facilitates transboundary cooperation in a manner that is accessible to the wider transboundary water community. It discusses the norms and principles contained in treaties and rules of customary law and examines how these work in selected case studies from across the GWP network.

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Integrated Urban Water Management, No. 16 (2012)

Background paper #16

 This background paper (1,17 MB) helps to understand the shift from an approach that attempts to manage different aspects of urban water cycle in isolation to an integrated approach. Water supply, sanitation, stormwater and wastewater are not anymore managed by isolated entities and separated from land-use planning and economic development. IUWM calls for the alignment of urban development and basin management to achieve sustainable economic, social, and environmental goals.

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Social Equity and Integrated Water Resources Management, No. 15 (2011)

Background paper #15
Social equity is the least understood of the 3 E’s (equity, economic efficiency and environmental sustainability) of IWRM. This background paper (1,2MB) sets out an overarching framework for the analysis of equity in the context of water development and management. It is intended to support decision makers in designing policies, interventions, and programs aimed at the equitable distribution of benefits from water resources.

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Water Management, Water Security and Climate Change Adaptation: Early Impacts and Essential Responses, No. 14 (2009)

Background paper #14

This paper (3.95 MB) argues that water resources management should be a focus for climate change adaptation and that IWRM is the most suitable approach to adaptive action. It outlines the likely social, economic and environmental impacts of climate change; the challenges climate change poses for water resources management; the actions needed to address those challenges – investments in infrastructure, institutions and information; and approaches to financing IWRM for adaptation.

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Managing the Other Side of the Water Cycle: Making Wastewater an Asset, No. 13 (2009)

Background paper #13

This paper (805,77KB) emphasizes that the provision of environmentally sound systems in an integrated way, taking into account the whole water cycle of water supply, wastewater, solid waste collection, treatment and reuse, is the best way forward to addressing this critical challenge.

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Water Financing and Governance, No. 12 (2008)

Background paper #12
There is a very close link between the integrated approach, good water governance and financing but, to date, there has been little discussion about this relationship. This paper (147 KB) aims to bring together these different strands so that a more coordinated, coherent approach to water financing is adopted. It focuses on the need to fund the water resources functions that are essential for security and sustainability.

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Urban Water and Sanitation Services; An IWRM Approach, No.11 (2006)

Background paper #11

 In this paper (768.5 KB) an attempt is made to consider IWRM approaches to urban water management in a broader way. While appropriate managment tools will be considered, attention is focussed on institutional design, decision-making scale, governance and the critical question of impledmentation practice.

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IWRM and Water Efficiency Plans by 2005: Why, What and How? No. 10 (2004)

Background paper #10

 This paper (511.8 KB) is targeted at senior managers in ministries and agencies responsible for addressing national water resources management issues, and its principal aim is to help stakeholders implement reform processes in water resources management and to guide development towards more integrated approaches.

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Water Management and Eco Systems: Living with Change, No. 9 (2003)

Background paper #9

The focus of this paper (2.92 MB) is to analyse the relations between human society, water resources and ecosystems, to clarify why and how vital ecosystems have to be protected and to indicate how this effort can be better incorporated in IWRM.

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Poverty Reduction and IWRM, No. 8 (2003)

Background paper #8
This paper (1.98 MB) focuses on the implications for poverty reduction of taking an IWRM approach. The paper argues that no strategy for poverty reduction can be effective unless water policies in all their dimensions are brought within it purview, and IWRM is adopted which allows competitions over access and uses to be fairly and transparently moderated. The paper (593.6 KB) is divided into two main parts. The first part puts forward a strong case for applying IWRM globally and defines the IWRM concept and process. The second part provides additional advice and guidance on how IWRM could be implemented in different conditions.

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Effective Water Governance, No. 7 (2003)

Background paper #7
The goal of this paper (2,17 MB) is to present a coherent discussion of water governance, and show how it relates to water managment and development. It is aimed at water professionals who need to be familiar with issues of governance as they strive to work outside the water sector.

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Risk and Integrated Water Management, No.6 (2002)

Background paper #6

This paper (345 KB) attepmts to address different risk categories that water managers and water users are faced. It argues that risk managment is a distributive issue that cannot be treated solely as a technical matter best handled by experts. It involves the allocation of wealth and welfare between water sectors, communities and individual users; those affected need to be involved in decision making.

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Letter to My Minister, No. 5 (2000)

Background paper #5
This paper (510.7 KB) is a personal contribution from Ivan Cheret in support of IWRM as a means towards coordinating the development and management of water, land, and related resources to provide water security for all.

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Integrated Water Resources Management, No. 4 (2000)

Background paper #4
The paper (593.6 KB) is divided into two main parts. The first part puts forward a strong case for applying IWRM globally and defines the IWRM concept and process. The second part provides additional advice and guidance on how IWRM could be implemented in different conditions.

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The Dublin Principles for Water as Reflected in a Comparatice Assessment of Institutional and Legal Arrangements for IWRM, No. 3 (1999)

Background paper #3

The purpose of this paper (496.8 KB) is to analyse the relationship between the Dublin Principles, IWRM and water law. The report does not pursue to endorse a single given model or solution, but to provide a set of alternatives and experiences about institutional issues affecting water management.

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Water as a Social and Economic Good: How to Put the Principle into Practice, No. 2 (1998)

Background paper #2

The paper (232.9 KB) is divided into three sections. The first presents the general principles and methodologies for estimating costs and values in the water sector. The second section illustrates estimates of costs and values in urban, industrial, and agricultural sectors. Section three summarizes results and conclusions.

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Regulation and Private Participation in the Water and Sanitation Sector, No. 1 (1998)

Background paper #1

 In this paper, it is argued that the privatisation process is not simply about changing the ownership or managerial characteristics of an industry. It involves making a complex set of choices about all the factors influencing sector performance and creating the conditions under which private involvement can yield the desired performance improvements.

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