Main Issue

Clean and sufficient water is essential for human health and livelihoods and ecosystems alike. Nevertheless, still roughly one of three people lack access to adequate sanitation and one out of ten lack access to safe drinking water. Globally, agriculture accounts for about 70% of freshwater withdrawals; 42% of this comes from groundwater. Groundwater resources are being exploited at an alarming rate and abstraction has increased more than fourfold in the last 50 years. By 2050, 70-100% more food will be needed to meet demand, assuming current projections of around 9 billion people. Energy accounts for roughly 75% of all industrial water withdrawals and equals about 15 % of total water withdrawals. With these increasing demands and additional pressures from increasing climate variability and change in many countries – especially many of these with high hydroclimatic variability in lower latitudes –  will need to examine sustainable development scenarios to address trade-offs across sectors in the planning of water uses.

What We Do

In shared basins cooperation can assure greater water, energy, food, and ecosystems security compared to unilateral development options. Realizing benefits from cooperation through national and regional investments with visible impacts enhances stability of country relations and support to sustainable finance of regional cooperative institutions. Enhanced economic ties and multi-level interactions among countries sharing a basin/sub-region lessen the likelihood of conflict. Read more+


The GEF has supported countries in shared basins to develop a Joint vision for cooperation, develop joint, cross-sectoral action plans, and support their implementation. Experience shows that Shared Vision statements often reach far beyond cooperation on water to embrace regional integration, stability and peace. Read more+

Looking Ahead

Priority investments anchored in agreed basin-wide strategic action plans span both national and multi-country support to investments, e.g. in improved information and information exchange, institutional, policy and strategy reforms on regional, national, and local levels, and in innovative technologies.  GEF-7 will specifically address the inclusion of the ecosystem dimension into the Water, Energy, Land, and Ecosystem nexus and increasing environmental security. GEF will finance the incremental costs of creating regional benefits and also engage – in cooperation with both the public and private sectors - in de-risking innovation to address water security both in terms of quality and quantity/availability. International Focal Area investments will seek enhancement and complementarity with resources and investments in other focal areas and Impact Programs. Read more+