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Vital global water project inaugurated by Klaus Toepfer and Kjell Larson in Kalmar, Sweden

Nairobi, 15 October 1999 - Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Kjell Larsson, the Swedish Minister for Environment, yesterday inaugurated the Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) project in Kalmar, Sweden.

GIWA is an activity falling under the UNEP Division of Environmental Assessment and Early Warning. GIWA is led by UNEP and receives approximately 50 per cent of its funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

"The provision of an adequate supply of safe, clean water is regarded as the most important precondition for sustaining human life and for achieving sustainable development" said Mr. Toepfer. "The diminishing availability of usable water in the face of exponentially increasing demand, indicates the potential for disputes and even conflict, both within and among States over water resources".

"Severe water shortages already exist in many parts of the world and the global water cycle is unlikely to be able to cope with demands that will be made on it in the coming decades", he said.

In the past there has been a lack of a comprehensive assessment of transboundary water bodies - marine and freshwater. This has presented a serious and unique impediment to the implementation of effective projects. The ultimate goal of GIWA is to provide Governments, decisions-makers and funding agencies with a quantitative, scientifically accurate identification and assessment of water related issues in various sub-regions, worldwide.

This four-year assessment project will be completed by the summer of 2003 and will enable participants to prepare an integrated, strategic, global assessment of international waters. The report will form the basis for future GEF decisions on funding of water projects within GEF's focal area 'International Waters'.

Information from the GIWA project will be made available for practical work and for education. In addition to the electronic availability, reports and analyses will be prepared for wide circulation.


Note: GIWA means the Global International Waters Assessment. The term 'global' indicates global coverage - 66 water subregions worldwide; the term international refers to International Waters. This refers to transboundary waters (marine or freshwater areas shared by two or more countries. GEF is jointly implemented by UNEP, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.

GIWA concentrates on topics of critical importance to the international community, comprising 22 issues grouped into 5 major areas of concern (freshwater shortages; pollution; habitat and community modification; unsustainable exploitation of fisheries and other living resources, and global change). GIWA has a broad geographical scope, covering 66 geographical units of assessments, grouped into 9 mega-regions for management purposes. It adopts a holistic approach, involving political, economic and social considerations as well as environmental concerns. With funding provided by the Global environment Facility (GEF) and partners, GIWA is a complement to UNEP's water programme. Its four-year initial funding guarantees its sustainability in the medium term. The development, in the intervening period, of a sustainable financing strategy will secure GIWA's long- term financing needs.

For more information, please visit the GIWA web site at
contact: Prof. Per Wramner,
Scientific Director,
tel: 46-480 44 7351;
Tore J. Brevik,
UNEP Spokesman and Director of Communications and Public Information Branch,
Nairobi, Kenya.
Tel.: (254-2) 623292; Fax: 623692;

UNEP News Release 1999/114

Statement by the GRID-Arendal director, Svein Tveitdal at the GIWA opening

Friday 15 Oct 1999
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