IWAC • A Pan-European network of scientists and policy makers to support integrated water resources management

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What is IWAC?

The International Water Assessment Centre (IWAC) is the collaborating centre on integrated resources management of the United Nations Commission for Europe (UNECE). Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute in Bratislava (SHMU), Slovakia, hosts the centre.

IWAC supports the UNECE Water Convention and its Protocols on Water and Health and on Civil Liability for Damage caused by Industrial Accidents.

IWAC is a joint platform for scientists and policy makers to respond to new challenges in water policy and implementation at national, transboundary and international levels. It builds on a network of leading European Water institutions. Other governmental organizations and programmes are invited to join IWAC's activities.

Representatives of leading European Water Management Institutes are the driving force for IWAC and are united in the IWAC Founding Members Group.


What makes IWAC unique?

IWAC intends to form a link between policy makers and experts in the field of monitoring and assessment. IWAC takes up the challenge of answering strategic questions, such as: What information is relevant for the management of transboundary waters, river basins, groundwaters and international lakes?

  • What are the priorities for environmental information?
  • How can the information needs of decision makers and the public be met most effectively?
  • How can monitoring and assessment be established most efficiently?

Countries in transition and development are looking for affordable solutions that are easy to maintain (economically sustainable). How can priority information be obtained at low costs and with a manageable quality system? This asks for a tailor-made approach; an approach which is very familiair to IWAC experts.

Who is IWAC trying to reach?

  • Policy makers: they formulate the management questions and targets
  • Planners and managers at regional and local level: they are responsible for monitoring and assessment practices:
  • Scientists: they develop the methodologies or would like to have information
  • Everybody who would like to be informed about monitoring and assessment of water quality and quantity.


IWAC responsibilities

The growing need to consider monitoring and assessment within the wider context of integrated water resources management (IWRM) calls for broadening IWAC original focus on monitoring and assessment.

On the basis of the decisions by the Meeting of the Parties on the areas of work under the Convention and the experience gained since IWAC establishment, IWAC responsibilities will include:

  • Initiate and/or assist in developing and implementing pilot projects on priority issues defined by the Parties to the Convention
  • Assist in preparation of periodic assessments of transboundary rivers, lakes and groundwaters
  • Organize training courses and workshops, and/or render assistance to UNECE countries and joint bodies in conducting such events
  •  Provide advisory service at the requests of countries in the context of IWRM in the UNECE region, and in other regions as appropriate
  • Act as a clearing house on issues dealt under the Convention and its Protocols, including collection and dissemination of relevant material
  • To act as a coordinator among its Core Group members and other partners in order to promote: (i) joint action, including implementation of  projects and related fund raising activities; (ii) exchange of concepts and findings of scientific research, dialogue between scientists and policy makers, for the transformation of scientific results and technical know-how into policies
  • To assist joint bodies within the terms of article 9, paragraph 2, of the Convention in carrying out their obligations under the Convention;

IWAC shall ensure that all its tasks and main activities are properly coordinated and harmonized, to the extent feasible, with pertinent legislation and policies of the European Union, activities of the European Environment Agency and its relevant topic centres, and the activities of joint bodies under the Convention.

Activities should be needs driven and can be organized at the UNECE region-wide level, at the subregional level (South-East Europe, East Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia, EU and other Western European countries) or at the national level.

Specific workplans for the inter-session period of three years between meetings of the Parties will be developed to pursue implementation of priority activities and submitted for adoption to the respective Meeting of the Parties.

IWAC Organisational Structure

The Meeting of Parties to the Water Convention will consider progress in IWAC activities and decide on strategic directions for its further work.

Subsidiary bodies under the Water Convention will define specific areas of work, including through identification of activities such as pilot projects.

The Secretariat of the UNECE Water Convention will ensure communication between the Convention's bodies and IWAC secretariat and will assist in implementing activities, as appropriate. 

A Core Group of IWAC, comprised of representatives of leading institutions dealing with the water-related issues, will: (a) prepare, review and update, in consultation with IWAC secretariat and the UNECE secretariat, future strategies and workplans for IWAC activities for consideration by the Meetings of the Parties to the Water Convention and other subsidiary bodies, as appropriate; and (b) decide on and support implementation of activities, including fundraising, as relevant. The composition of the Core Group will take into account expertise required for activities in the respective IWAC workplan.

IWAC Secretariat will take the lead in initiating and implementing the activities defined in the IWAC workplan.

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