About IWRM

The Technical Committee of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) defines Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) as a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximise economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems and the environment.

IWRM is a comprehensive approach to the development and management of water, addressing its management both as a resource and the framework for provision of water services.

There are various principles and approaches relevant to IWRM, each having suitable application. However, IWRM is primarily guided by the Dublin Principles that emerged from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

The Dublin Principles

IWRM is guided by the Dublin Principles, which are:

  1. Fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment.
  2. Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policy makers at all levels.
  3. Women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water.
  4. Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognised as an economic good.

Principal Components of IWRM

The key components of the IWRM process are:

  • Managing water resources at the lowest possible level 
  • Optimising supply 
  • Managing demand 
  • Providing equitable access to water resources through participatory and transparent governance and management 
  • Establishing improved and integrated policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks 
  • Utilising an inter-sectoral approach to decision making 
  • Integrating management means that we receive multiple benefits from a single intervention.

The Operational Tools of IWRM

A. Enabling Environment

  • Policies
  • Legislative Framework
  • Financing and Incentive Structures

B. Institutional Roles

  • Institutional Framework
  • Institutional Capacity Building

C. Management Instruments

  • Water Resources Assessments
  • Planning for IWRM
  • Demand Management
  • Social Change Instruments
  • Economic Instruments
  • Information and Communications