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Name The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Logo Image:Uneplogo.jpg
Geographic Scope Global
Subject Focus Expertise environment
Contact E-mail: unepinfo@unep.org
URL http://www.unep.org
edit  ·  AboutUN-Water
UN-Water Partners: AquaFed | The Global Compact | GWP | IAH | IAHS | ICID | IWA | IWMI | PSI | RAMSAR | SIWI | UNSGAB | WSSCC | WBCSD | IUCN | World Water Council | WWF
UN-Water Task Forces on WaterWiki: UN-Water Country-level Coordination TF
Key UN-Water Reports: Water Monitoring (Monitoring Task Force report - Aug 08) | UN-Water/reports
Related WaterWiki-resources: UN World Water Development Report | Water Monitoring
Key External Links: About UN-Water | About WWAP | World Water Development Report (WWDR)



UNEP works with governments, the private sector and civil society to protect natural resources worldwide. As well as supporting assessments and developing institutional and legal capacity, UNEP promotes dialogue and cooperation among stakeholders, the exchange of best practices and success stories, the transfer of knowledge and technology, and the establishment of demonstration projects. UNEP is an advocate, educator, catalyst and facilitator, promoting the wise use of the planet’s natural assets for sustainable development. UNEP works with many partners: United Nations entities, international organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations, business, industry, the media and civil society.

UNEP assesses global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends; develops international agreements and national environmental instruments; strengthens institutions for the wise management of the environment; integrates economic development and environmental protection; facilitates the transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable development, and encourages new partnerships and mind-sets within civil society and the private sector.

UNEP has eight Divisions to promote and facilitate sound environmental management for sustainable development:

  • Early Warning and Assessment
  • Policy Development and Law
  • Environmental Policy Implementation
  • Technology, Industry and Economics
  • Regional Cooperation
  • Environmental Conventions
  • Communications and Public Information
  • Global Environment Facility (GEF) Coordination
Related initiatives
GEMS/Water Programme

Water and Sanitation related Programmes

UNEP has worked to promote sustainable water resources management practices through collaborative approaches at the national, regional and global levels since its establishment. After more than 30 years, water resources management continues as a strong pillar of UNEP’s work. UNEP is actively participating in addressing the water issues together with partner UN agencies, other organizations and donors. The organisation facilitates and catalyses water resource assessments in various developing countries, implements projects that assist countries in developing integrated water resource management plans, creates awareness of innovative alternative technologies and assists to develop, implement and enforce water resource management policies, laws and regulations.

1. Water and Sanitation

Under Water and Sanitation, UNEP focuses on drinking water provision, technologies for wastewater treatment and water quality improvement within the urban realm.

2. Integrated Water Resource Management

In collaboration with the UNEP Collaborating Center on Water and Environment (UCC-Water) UNEP is addressing the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation target on IWRM Plans 2005. This is done by assisting developing countries and regions in developing IWRM roadmaps that will guide the countries in the development of a national IWRM plan.

3. International Waters

UNEP and the Global Environment Facility are jointly working to reverse the degradation of International shared seas and river basins such as the South China Sea, the Red Sea and the San Francisco River Basin.

4. Freshwater Assessment

UNEP carries out and coordinates the collection and dissemination of comprehensive assessments of worlds freshwater and coastal/marine water resources in an integrated manner.

5. Dams and Development

During the past 5 years UNEP has successfully implemented a project on Dams and Development aiming to promote a dialogue on improving decision-making, planning and management of dams and their alternatives based on the World Commission on Dams (WCD) core values and strategic priorities. The project ended in April 2007.

6. Ecosystem Services

UNEP's Ecosystem Services work to integrate multilateral environment agreements (MEA) objectives within broader development processes including Poverty Reduction Strategies. Through the Partnership for the Development of Law and Institutions in Africa (PADELIA), UNEP assists the development of water related laws and regulations at the national level.

7. Rainwater Harvesting Partnership

Under the initiative of UNEP, the Rainwater Partnership was established on 14th October, 2004 in The Hague, the Netherlands, to promote and mainstream rainwater harvesting activities.

UNEP's mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.


The overall goal of the UNEP water policy and strategy is to contribute substantively to environmental sustainability in the management of all water resources, utilizing integrated ecosystems approaches, as a contribution to the internationally agreed targets and goals relevant to water and socio-economic development.

The objectives of the UNEP water policy and strategy, distilled from its mandates, are:

  • Improved assessment and awareness of water issues;
  • Improved environmental management of basins, coastal and marine waters, including the identification of linkages with ongoing international processes;
  • Improved cooperation in the water sector.

Key Resources

See also complete list of WaterWiki-documented UNEP-Publications


  • UNEP/GEMS Water Programme provides scientifically-sound data and information on the state and trends of global inland water quality required as a basis for the sustainable management of the world's freshwater to support global environmental assessments and decision- making processes. Collaboration with WWAP (water quality outlook).


  • Water Policy and Strategy of UNEP
  • Water and Wastewater Reuse: An Environmentally Sound Approach for Sustainable Urban Water Management (2005) - Water scarcity and water pollution pose a critical challenge in many developing countries. In urban areas, it is becoming difficult for the authorities to manage water supply and wastewater. Strategies for water and wastewater reuse can improve urban water management. This publication provides introductory guidelines for such strategies. Important aspects to minimize public health risks are identified, and the possibilities of wastewater reuse in agriculture, industry, urban uses, and environmental water enhancement are discussed with the help of practical examples.
  • Challenges to International Water: Regional Assessments in a Global Perspective - The Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) is a holistic, globally comparable assessment of the world's transboundary waters that recognises the inextricable links between the freshwater and the coastal marine environment and integrates environmental and socio-economic information to determine the impacts of a broad range of influences on the world's aquatic environment.
  • Rainwater Harvesting and Utilisation - Among the various alternative technologies to augment freshwater resources, rainwater harvesting and utilisation is a decentralised, environmentally sound solution, which can avoid many environmental problems often caused in conventional large-scale projects using centralised approaches.

Click Here for all water-relevant UNEP publications.

Work on the Ground

The main initiative in water and sanitation is the Support for Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands project, within the framework of the United Nations Trust Fund for Iraqi Reconstruction. The US$11 million project, funded by the Government of Japan, supports the sustainable management of the Iraqi Marshlands by facilitating strategy formulation, monitoring marsh conditions, raising capacity of Iraqi decision makers, and providing water, sanitation and wetland management EST options on a pilot basis.

See above for other programmes and activities or countries pages


See also

External Resources


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