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Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) Final Report Launched

Challenges to International Waters: Regional Assessments in a Global Perspective

Key results of the UNEP-Global International Waters Assessment, as presented in the Final Report, Challenges to International Waters - Regional Assessments in a Global Perspective, launched in Dubai today. It is available in print and at or

The GIWA project divided the continents and shallow-water seas of the world into 66 natural regions consisting of one or more international river basins and their adjacent Large Marine Ecosystems. Local teams of experts assessed the deterioration of freshwater and marine systems caused by freshwater shortage, pollution, overfishing and habitat modification, as well as global climate change. Altogether, about 1 500 scientists and other experts were involved in the GIWA project, which was the largest global assessment of a broad array of ecosystem-wide water issues. "For most of the regions under study GIWA Regional Reports have been published in print and/or electronically."

The GIWA Final Report contains a complex matrix presenting the severity of 22 environmental and socio-economic water-related issues in all the studied regions. The global synopsis, like the regional reports, not only describes the current and future state of aquatic systems and their resources but also discusses the root causes and driving forces that create adverse environmental pressures, and draws policy related conclusions.

Policy makers and other parties interested in the development and management of international and national water basins and their aquatic resources will find the results contained in this book invaluable.

In the preface of the book, Dr. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, states:

“Over the past 20 years, the international community has increasingly recognized and asserted the urgent need for concerted actions to reverse the negative societal trends that affect the world's aquatic systems and to achieve sustainability in the use of water resources.”

Klaus Toepfer calls for “An ecosystem-based management framework, including the following components:

  • Political and societal commitments to tackle water-related challenges in a concerted and cooperative manner;
  • Sound scientific assessments of the current state of all freshwater and coastal marine resources and their aquatic ecosystems;
  • Informed dialogue between governments, stakeholders and experts, based on the assessments;
  • Technological support and capacity enhancement; and
  • Adequate financing for projects and programmes related to water resources and aquatic ecosystems.”

“UNEP hopes that the book will assist in the development of a roadmap to environmental sustainability and will inspire actions necessary to overcome the global challenges to aquatic resources and ecosystems.”

GIWA, was a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)-led and Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded programme, with Kalmar University, Sweden as the main executing agency that hosted the GIWA Core Team and Co-ordination Office.