The project’s goal is to promote South-to-South learning, develop and implement mechanisms to disseminate the lessons being learned in GEF (Global Environment Facility) International Waters-related projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, and improve capacity for integrated land and water resource management. This Medium Sized Project (MSP) complemented the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)/GEF project, “Strengthening Capacity for Global Knowledge-Sharing in International Waters” (IW-Learn), by using Latin America and the Caribbean as a demonstration to illustrate how systematic exchange of project experiences can improve integrated water resources management. Specifically, the project’s network sought to strengthen and improve mechanisms for the dissemination of information and lessons learned from GEF-IW projects and other experiences in integrated water resources management within the Latin America and Caribbean region. With such mechanisms, the project encouraged the assimilation of lessons learned into national water resources management policies and river basin master plans.
Despite the significant advances of the last decade, Latin America and Caribbean countries continue to face serious challenges in dealing with water management issues. Conflicting mandates, incompatible policies, inadequate legal frameworks, lack of institutional capacity, financial limitations, and weak public participation strategies remain as serious obstacles in the region for attaining Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) goals and objectives.
While these problems appear common to many countries and among river basins, approaches and solutions are largely developed on a case-by-case basis, with little interchange of experiences and outcomes between countries, basins, or stakeholders. Recognizing this problem, the Brazilian government, through the National Water Resource Secretariat, proposed to GEF a project initiative “to prepare and execute mechanisms of dissemination of experiences and lessons learned, in the integrated management of transboundary water resources in America.” Based on best practices and lessons learned, the project aims to support the development and replication of sound integrated water resource management policies throughout the region, helping to promote relations and establish links between on-going water-related initiatives, particularly transboundary projects financed by GEF as part of its International Waters Operational Program.
The projects seeks to achieve an increased understanding and capacity of river-basin organizations, in order to get national water authorities and water stakeholders to properly address the technical, social, legal, and ecological issues facing water resources management in the region. Such capacity and understanding is predicated upon access and exchange of information, to be developed and/or strengthened through this project by:
- Establishment of a Virtual Forum, helping to strengthen regional and national information systems to address common difficulties in implementing effective, integrated land and water management practices
- Strengthening of the Inter-American Water Resource Network-IWRN1, as the principal hemispheric communication tool for integrated water resources management in the region
- Enhancing and promoting an active participation of civil society in water management decision making. The activities and results of this Medium Sized Project will serve as a demonstration/pilot project for the global-scale, GEF-financed IW-LEARN project, leveraging the experience gained in LAC to benefit GEF-IW activities world-wide, building a larger system of global knowledge sharing.
Efforts in this project center in the establishment of a hemispheric water agenda and identifying common principles and standards for the implementation of IWRM. The action plan is based on the review of best practices and lessons learned, the reorganization of the IWRN, the role of the National Focal Points and their relationship with the GS/OAS. The National Focal Points, as high-level government experts on issues regarding water policy, will have a central role in establishing the hemispheric water agenda, and in defining the common principles and standards for the implementation of IWRM. The new dynamic Web-based Information System for the IWRN is being expanded to the Caribbean and other subregions. Full implementation and use, establishing mixed partnerships between governmental institutions, universities, NGOs, international organizations, and private organizations, will be pursued and promoted in the years to come. The system is capable of supporting all communications and discussions for the development of the hemispheric agenda, as well as for the implementation of national and regional ones.
- Funding source: Global Environment Facility - GEF
- GEF Implementing Agency: United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)
- Executing Agency: Organization of American States