History of IWRM

An early example of an integrated approach took place in the 1930s in the United States of America (USA), with the development of comprehensive watershed plans for natural resource usage by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Since then, the UN and other international organizations have developed different forms of integration under the IWRM concept, which has evolved over the decades. IWRM has remained an important concept for water management since the Agenda 21 process of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

The original call for IWRM worldwide was made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg in 2002, where the international community took an important step towards more sustainable patterns of water management. This call established through the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) for all countries to “develop integrated water resource management and water efficiency plans by 2005, through actions at all levels, with support to developing countries.”

Status of IWRM implementation

Experience in various countries has shown that IWRM is an essential prerequisite for effectively coordinating water development strategies across diverse sectors, political jurisdictions and geographical regions within a river basin. However, progress towards implementing IWRM in developed and developing countries have varied widely.

Coordinated by the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), the United Nations World Water Development Reports (WWDR) are a joint effort of the 26 United Nations agencies and entities that make up UN-Water, working in partnership with governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. Published every three years since 2003, it offers a comprehensive review of the state of the world’s freshwater resources and provides decision-makers with the tools to implement sustainable use of our water. It represents a mechanism for monitoring changes in the resource and for management and tracking progress towards achieving international development targets. It also offers best practices as well as in-depth theoretical analyses to help stimulate ideas and actions for better stewardship in the water sector.

Key drivers afecting water stress
Key drivers afecting water stress

Guidelines to help raise international awareness of IWRM and detailed information: