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Name The International Union for Conservation of Nature
Logo Image:Iucnlogo-240.gif
Geographic Scope Global
Subject Focus Expertise conservation, protection of biodiversity
Contact E-mail: webmaster@iucn.org
URL http://www.iucn.org/
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Key UN-Water Reports: Water Monitoring (Monitoring Task Force report - Aug 08) | UN-Water/reports
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IUCN is the world’s largest and oldest environmental network. The Union brings together 82 States, 111 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. It supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world and brings governments, non-government organizations, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities together to develop and implement policy, laws and best practice.

IUCN's vision is a just world that values and conserves nature. In order to translate this vision into reality, IUCN

  • develops and supports cutting edge conservation science, particularly in species, ecosystems, biodiversity, and the impact these have on human livelihoods;
  • runs thousands of field projects around the world to better manage natural environments;
  • supports governments, NGOs, international conventions, UN organizations, companies and communities to develop laws, policy and best-practice; and
  • helps implement laws, policy and best-practice by mobilizing organizations, providing resources, training people and monitoring results.

Water Programme

Responding to the need to protect and conserve our water resources, IUCN formed the Water Programme in 1985. Since its inception, the Water Programme has been working across the world, mainly focusing on the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, and Asia. These programmes have covered multiple areas such as integrated water resource management (IWRM), environmental flows, water economics, watershed ecosystems, as well as river bank rehabilitation, and the effects of climate change on global water supply and distribution.

Source:IUCN website
Source:IUCN website
Source:IUCN website

The IUCN Water Programme seeks to bring together its extensive network of members, scientific commissions, government and private sector partners to sustainably develop solutions and initiatives to preserve the world's water resources. The programme contributes towards the conservation of water biodiversity by promoting, influencing and catalyzing sustainable uses and equitable sharing of resources, as well as protecting ecosystems. In order to attain these goals, the water programme is focusing on the following objectives:

  • Further development and implementation of a focused Union-wide Water Programme
  • Establishment of an active network of Members, Commissions, individuals and Institutions to implement the Programme
  • Influencing global debate and decisions on conservation and sustainable use of water resources
  • Establishment of partnerships through the implementation of joint activities on water conservation (eg. the Head of IUCN’s Water Programme also sits on the Board of Governors of the World Water Council – WWC)

The Water Programme has three overarching initiatives:

The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

The mission of the Water Programme is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of water resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

Key Resources

See also complete list of WaterWiki-documented IUCN-Publications


  • WANI Toolkits - A toolkit series has been developed under WANI to support learning on how to mainstream an ecosystems approach in water resource management. Aimed at practitioners, policy-makers and students from NGOs, governments and academia, the series builds on practical case studies to show how key principles of sustainable water management are implemented in river basins.The current toolkits cover the management of flows, governance, economics and incentives, and adaptation to climate change. The series continues to grow and will be complemented by the publication of a comprehensive WANI Synthesis book in 2009.
  • IUCN e-Atlas - provides maps of land cover, population density and biodiversity for 154 basins and sub-basins around the world. It lists indicators and variables for each of these basins and, where appropriate, provides links and references to relevant information. It further contains 20 global maps portraying relevant water resources issues. Downloadable basin profiles and global watershed maps are also available.

Selected Publications

  • Share: Managing Water Across Boundaries (2008) - Transboundary rivers are increasingly being drawn upon to meet the needs of growing populations and economies. This increased pressure on the available water resources sharpens competing demands between countries, rural and urban areas, different user groups, and the river ecosystems themselves. The challenge is to balance these competing demands in a way that is equitable and sustainable for present and future generations....
  • Ideas for Groundwater Management (2008) - Groundwater is the earth’s largest accessible store of fresh water. The volume is almost 100 times that of surface water. In recent decades use of groundwater has grown exponentially. Over 2 billion people depend on it for their daily supply. Not only have population increases and economic growth laid claim to an ever larger share of groundwater, but the quality of the resource is also increasingly under strain. This book provides ideas on different aspects of groundwater management, ranging from areas where there is an abundance of groundwater to areas where the resource is scarce. It is aimed at various players faced with challenges in groundwater management, practitioners from local and central governments, non-governmental organizations, groundwater management projects and the users themselves.
  • Working for Water and People (2008)
  • Water as a Human Right (2004) -
  • Linking Poverty Reduction and Water Management (2006) - This paper analyses the relationship between water management and poverty reduction. All aspects of poverty are considered: this is reflected in the analysis of water’s potential contribution to all of the MDGs, not just those that refer explicitly to water. The basic contention advanced, and supported through reference to a wide range of case studies, is that water management is a good investment: not only can it contribute to poverty reduction, but it can do so in ways that are affordable and, in many cases, generate wealth. This potential is often not understood: the political prominence of water issues is all too often not translated into investment priorities. In particular,water management actions are poorly represented in PRSPs and in other key development strategies intended to focus national efforts on poverty reduction and attaining the MDGs.
  • Pay:Establishing payments for watershed services (2006) - Water as a good, a service or a right, is more and more frequently put forward as a major challenge in our globalized world. We are putting our water resources under increasing pressure and we need to address how we deal with this extra stress on our environment. When we add our desire for social equity, economic yield and environmental accountability – the problem becomes extremely complex.
  • Value:Counting Ecosystems as Water Infrastructure - This tool book reflects the growing awareness that ecosystems are important to water management. In the past, we did not realize the many benefits of ecosystems and consequently ignored them in our management decisions. The result was environmental degradation, oftentimes leading to increased poverty for water- and wetland-dependent communities. Now, we are increasingly recognizing that ecosystems play a very important role in the demand and supply side of water: ecosystems use water, regulate water supply, and provide a range of products and services on which people depend. Moreover, we increasingly have, at our disposal, the policy frameworks, the tools and the willingness to put that insight into practice.
  • Change: Adaptation of Water Resources Management to Climate Change - This report will help water professionals to identify actions that can be taken to adapt to the changes in the world's water regimes expected to occur over the coming decades. It’s origins can be traced back to the World Water Vision, a declaration on global water issues adopted in March 2000 during the Second World Water Forum. The Vision highlighted climate change as one of the major challenges facing water professionals over the next twenty-five years.

Click Here for all water-related IUCN publications.
Click Here for all of IUCN's Water Programme Resources.
Click Here for ALL IUCN's most comprehensive range of authoritative publications, reports, guidelines and databases for conservation and sustainable development.

Work on the Ground

IUCN works on thousands of projects, initiatives and activities around the world. Through field projects IUCN members and partners test how stakeholder participation, improved water governance and innovative financing can improve livelihoods and maintain healthy ecosystems.

Selected Projects

  • The Perfume River Management Project (Vietnam) - The long-term goal of the project is an improved flood management and sustainable resource use within the Perfume River Basin based on restored ecological services and an integrated water and land management. The project provides for a mid-term strategy to deal with some of the critical issues of flooding and over-extraction. It addresses both the direct vulnerability of livelihoods and the environmental needs in the basin in an integrated management plan and pilot activities on the ground. The project will allow the Province of Hue to move from disaster mitigation towards sustainable resource use and conservation.
  • Lake Tanganyika Project (Africa) - involves work at the regional and national level to set common goals and implement specific actions for the sustainable management of the Lake's water resources. The project is scheduled to take 5 years at a total cost of US$ 27 million.
  • The Komadugu-Yobe Integrated Management project - aims to create the institutional environment that allows participatory and informed decision-making. Such an environment is a necessary condition for the success of the subsequent full-fledged integrated land and water management of other programmes. The project will establish a framework for a process of broad-based and informed decision-making, based on agreed principles for equitable use and sustainable management of the Komadugu Yobe Basin.

Click Here for all IUCN'w water projects.

See also

IUCN - Water & Nature Initiative


See also

External Resources


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