Global Wastewater Initiative

What is the Global Wastewater Initiative?

Member states of the GPA endorsed the creation of the Global Wastewater Initiative (GW2I) to:

  • Prompt synchronized action
  • Encourage investments in the field of wastewater
  • Facilitate cooperation, coordination and synergy amongst all stakeholders
  • Identify and foster opportunities which can be applied by countries or scaled up
The GW2I is bringing partners together for greater action

The GW2I is a global multiple stakeholder platform comprised of UN agencies, international organizations, governments, scientists, private sectors and major groups and stakeholders to provide the foundations for partnerships to initiate comprehensive, effective and sustained programmes addressing wastewater management.

It is a voluntary network of stakeholders with an international Steering Committee and a Secretariat to be provided by UNEP/GPA.

Finally, it is a space to work under thematic groups on the major issues, challenges and potential of wastewater, such as wastewater reuse, nutrient removal, biogas production.

Expected outcomes

  • Improved synergy among stakeholders including scientists, NGOs, the private sector, governments and international organizations for more effective wastewater management
  • Healthier ecosystems and improved human well-being
  • Increased opportunities and benefits realized and concerted national and international efforts to embed effective wastewater in national development plans
  • Enhanced knowledge generation, sharing and utilization for better wastewater management
  • Enhanced recognition of wastewater as a resource and an opportunity by decision makers and stakeholders
  • Increased utilization of the 3R approach worldwide
  • Enabled complementarities between the GW2I and relevant Conventions and other international instruments, action plans, initiatives, and activities
  • Systematic publication of scoping papers and global assessments on emerging wastewater issues
  • Increased mobilization of resources to address wastewater challenges.

Operational structure

1. Management and coordination arrangements
The management and coordination arrangements for the GW2I are important to give the partnership a clear structure, thereby enabling it to achieve its objectives. The proposed structure is that the GW2I will be composed of a Partnership Forum, an International Steering Committee and a Secretariat, to be provided by UNEP. UNEP, subject to the availability of resources, will: provide administrative and secretariat support; facilitate the reporting of the Partnership to governments, including, where appropriate, the UNEP Governing Council or its subsidiary bodies (including IGR-4); support fundraising activities on behalf of the Partnership; provide guidance and technical assistance to the Partnership Areas; encourage new partners to participate in the Partnership, as appropriate; and be a member of the Partnership Steering Committee.

2. Partnership Forum
It is proposed to have a biennial Conference of all the members of the Partnership (to be known as the Partnership Forum), to:

  • Review the work programme and performance of the Partnership in respect of meeting its objectives
  • Review proposals and make recommendations on the broad areas of focus for the Partnership
  • Discuss other matters as may be decided by the Conference

3. Partnership Steering Committee

A Partnership Steering Committee will be established to serve the Partnership. The composition, roles and responsibilities of the steering committee will be defined at the first GW2I meeting. The GW2I Partnership Steering Committee members will select a Chair who may serve for a two year term. UNEP will act as the Secretariat for and be a member of the Steering Committee. It is proposed that the GW2I Partnership Steering Committee meet on an annual basis and at such other times as deemed necessary. Meetings may be in person, by conference call or by any other means. Partnership Steering Committee meetings will be held back-to-back with other relevant meetings as far as practicable.


The focal areas of the GW2I are:


      1. Establishment of the GW2I infrastructure

  • Building up a strong network
  • Expanding the GW2I and engaging a wide variety of partners
  • Enhancing the visibility of the partnership
  • Gathering and disseminating available information and filling information gaps
  • Convening meetings of the GW2I.

    1. 2. Contributing to Global challenges and debates on wastewater issues

  • Post-2015 discussion on SDG targets and indicators related to wastewater
  • Research into community wastewater perceptions
  • Contribution to policy briefs on wastewater
  • Collection & dissemination of good practices linking WW management with food security (agricultural & energy production), poverty alleviation, climate change, water use efficiency etc
  • New and emerging issues.

    1. 3. Contributing to the strengthening of the normative basis for managing and monitoring the impacts of wastewater on the coastal and marine environment

  • Conduct of an economic valuation of wastewater to evaluate the cost of the loss of coastal and marine ecosystems services due to the impact of wastewater and the failure to take preventive measures (cost of no action) versus the cost of effective wastewater management (cost of action)
  • Provision of guidance & tools to decision-makers and concerned stakeholders
  • Development of a technology matrix of wastewater-related technologies
  • Preparation of guidelines for community leaders, etc

    1. 4. Contributing to the implementation of demonstration projects on wastewater treatment technologies

  • Contribution to the development and implementation of joint pilot projects to demonstrate and adopt measures enabling nutrients to be removed from wastewater
  • Other demonstrations.

    1. 5. Communication and outreach

  • Conduct awareness raising activities on the wastewater challenges and opportunities, and broker integrated approaches and solutions
  • Outreach and sharing information on wastewater
  • Contribution to the GW2I website with regional hubs, press centre, events, etc.
  • Standard presentations and short videos on key messages for various audiences
  • Policy briefs (e.g. Wastewater, building on the “Sick Water” report, which could address the status of wastewater coverage, treatment and management globally)
  • Presentation of exhibitions /poster and convening of side/parallel events at major meetings/conferences, e.g. Water Week, AMCOW, CoP of conventions to enhance the visibility of the GW2I
  • Contribute to/organize biannual GW2I scientific and policy conference
  • Contribute to press releases, media advisories, press conferences, public service announcements

More information:


Download the GW2I Factsheet

GPA Strategic Action Plan to Address Municipal Wastewater