GWP believes that an integrated approach to managing the world's water resources is the best way to pursue this vision—a vision that encompasses all of life.
GWP takes its guiding principles from the Dublin and Rio statements (1992), from the Millennium Assembly (2000), which gave rise to the Millennium Development Goals, and from the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002) Plan of Action, which set a target for the preparation of IWRM and Water Efficiency plans. Over time, GWP has adapted and elaborated these principles to reflect international understanding of the 'equitable and efficient management and sustainable use of water'. The guiding principles are:
- Freshwater is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment.
- Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach involving users, planners and policy makers at all levels.
- Women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water.
- Water is a public good and has a social and economic value in all its competing uses.
- Integrated water resources management is based on the equitable and efficient management and sustainable use of water and recognises that water is an integral part of the ecosystem, a natural resource, and a social and economic good, whose quantity and quality determine the nature of its utilisation.