International Waters


The world’s oceans, rivers, lakes, and groundwater systems do not respect political borders. These large water systems cover most of our planet, but they continue to be managed in a national and fragmented way that is endangering the food supply and livelihoods of billions of people. If our nations continue to exploit these shared resources in unsustainable ways, we face a dismal future characterized by the depletion of our water and marine resources, increased poverty, and greater conflict.


Diversions of water for irrigation, bulk supply, and potable use, together with the pollution of our common water bodies are creating cross-border tensions. These tensions also persist across the oceans, with three-quarters of fish stocks being overfished, fished at their maximum, or in a depleted state.


The GEF International Waters Focal Area was established to help countries work together to overcome these tensions in large water systems. The Focal Area helps countries collectively manage their transboundary surface water basins, groundwater basins, and coastal and marine systems in order to share the benefits from them.


Latest GEF International Water Conference

The 6th GEF Biennial International Waters Conference, hosted by the Government of Croatia, took place in Dubrovnik from 17-20 October, 2011.

Read and watch the video summaries of the conferences.