Global Water Initiatives (GWIs) 

About the GWI Project

Global water initiatives (GWIs) are institutions whose fundamental purpose is to advance the knowledge base regarding the world's inland water and its management. GWIs comprise professional societies, designated time periods, organized events, and intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations.

Additionally, since the 1980s, the core aim of many GWIs has expanded to include an active social and policy component. Thus, the mandate of many of these initiatives now includes attempts to improve access to potable water and sanitation across the globe.

In view of the great diversity of water-related issues, knowledge generation and social change are achieved by many institutions of several types.

Although global water initiatives have existed for more than a century and their numbers have increased palpably since the Second World War, surprisingly little has been written on their collective activities and impact.

The aim of the Udall Center's Global Water Initiative Project is to redress this paucity of research on global water initiatives and to help answer key questions on the genesis, operation, and influence of the most significant initiatives, and to better understand the nature of their interactions.

UA Research Team 

Robert Varady, Ph.D., Deputy Director and Director of Environmental Programs

Andrea K. Gerlak, Ph.D., Udall Center Visiting Assistant Professor and Director of Academic Development, International Studies Association.
School of Government and Public Policy


Global water initiatives and world water governance 
Varady, R. G., K. Meehan, and J. Rodda. 2009.
Keynote address, presented (by Varady) at the Advancing the Science of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) biennial Aquatic Sciences Meeting. Nice, France. 25-30 January.

Globalizing water: Governance through global water initiatives
Varady, R.G., and E. Mc Govern. 2008.
Presented (by Varady) at the Second Isla Victoria Workshop, The Future of Water. Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Club of Rome, others. Bariloche, Argentina. 12-16 May.

Charting the emergence of global water initiatives in world water governance
Varady, R.G., K. Meehan, and E. McGovern. 2008.
Keynote address, presented (by Varady) at the International Conference on Exploring Transdisciplinary Discourses: Water, Society and the Environment in Africa. Organized by North-West University, in collaboration with International Water History Association (IWHA). Drakensberg, South Africa. 20-24 April 2008.

Historical approaches to water governance and policies: Local to global paradigms
Varady, R. G. 2008 and 2007.
Presented at the First Short Course on World History of Water Management. UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education. Delft, Netherlands (September).

A flood of institutions? Sustaining global water initiatives
Varady, R. G., and K. Meehan. 2006.
Keynote talk, presented (by Varady) at the conference, Water, Ecosystems and Sustainable Development in Arid and Semi-Arid Zones. Urumqi, Xinjiang (October); International Symposium on History, Water and Engineering. Delft University of Technology. Delft, The Netherlands. (November).

Water issues and institutions: Transboundary basins and global water initiatives
Varady, R. G. 2007.
Presented to the Arid Lands Resource Science Class Lecture (ALRS 564), The University of Arizona. (February). (pdf)

Global water initiatives: What do the experts think? Report on a survey of leading figures in the “world of water”
Varady, R. G., and M. Iles-Shih. 2005.
Presented at the Workshop in Impacts of Mega-Conferences on Global Water Development and Management, Bangkok, Thailand (January); Instituto Mexicano De Tecnología Del Agua, Cuernavaca, Mexico (August). (pdf)

Global water initiatives: Their evolution and significance
Varady, R. G. 2004.
Presented at the 2004 AWRA International Specialty Conference, Good Water Governance for People and Nature, Water Roles for Law, Institutions and Finance? Dundee, Scotland (August 29-September 2.). (pdf)

Global water initiatives
Varady, R. G. 2004.
Seminars presented at Frauenhofer Institute of Technology Systems and Innovation Research, Karlsruhe, Germany (April); Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Society, Norrkoping, Sweden (May); Tampere University of Technology Institute of Environmental Engineering and Biotechnology, Tampere, Finland (May).

Global water initiatives: some preliminary observations on their evolution and significance
Varady, R. G. 2003.
Presented at 3rd Conf. of International Water History Assoc. Alexandria, Egypt (December).

Global Water Initiatives (GWIs) 

Professional Societies 

Inter-American Association for Sanitary and Environmental Engineering (AIDIS)

International Association of Hydraulic Engineering and Research (IAHR)

International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH)

International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS)

International Society Applied Limnology (SIL)

International Association of Water Law (AIDA)

International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID)

International Council for Science (ICSU)

International Geographical Union (IGU)

International Hydropower Association (IHA)

The World Association for Waterbourne Transport Infrastructure(PIANC)

International Network of Basin Organizations (RIOB)

International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG)

International Association for the Cryospheric Sciences (CCS)

International Water Association (IWA)

International Water History Association (IWHA)

International Water Resources Association (IWRA)

Intergovernmental / Nongovernmental Organizations 

Biospheric Aspects of the Hydrological Cycle (BAHC) (see also IGBP)

Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate (formerly Dialogue on Water and Climate)

Dialogue on Water, Food and Environment

Freshwater Action Network (FAN)

Global Water and Energy Cycle Experiment (GEWEX)

Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA)

Global Water

Global Water Partnership (GWP)

Global Water System Project (GWSP)

Hydrology for Environment, Life and Policy (HELP)

Inter-American Water Resources Network (IWRN)

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD)

International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP)

International Hydrological Programme (IHP)

International Network for Participatory Irrigation Management (INPIM)


International Rivers Network (IRN)

International Secretariat for Water

International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC)

International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands

UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP)

UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

UNICEF Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH)

Water Environment Federation (WEF)

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)

WaterWeb Consortium

World Water Council (WWC)

Designated Time Periods(H3)

International Year of Sanitation (2008)

International Decade for Action "Water for Life" (2005-2015)

International Year of Freshwater (2003)

World Water Day (annual since 1995)


International Conference on Freshwater (Bonn, 2001)

International Conference on Water and the Environment (Dublin, 1992)

International Conference on Water and Sustainable Development (Paris, 1998)

International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage (see also ICID)

World Water Forum (Istanbul, 2008)

United Nations Millennium Assembly (New York, 2000)

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, 2003)

United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972)

World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002)

Links last checked November 2008

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