GWP was founded in 1996 to foster integrated water resources management (IWRM), defined as a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximise economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

GWP history at a glance

1992 International Conference on Water and the Environment published the Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development with associated guidelines, the Dublin Principles.

1992 UN conference on Environment and Development called for effective implementation and coordination mechanisms to promote IWRM based on public participation.

1995 UNDP and World Bank issued an invitation to contribute to the development of a Global Water Partnership.

1996 The UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro and the informal adoption of the Dublin Principles established the basis for founding GWP in 1996. Initially GWP’s activities focused on developing the conceptual framework of IWRM based on the Dublin Principles, and establishing regional Technical Advisory Committees as start engines for awareness-raising on IWRM in the regions.

1996 Interim Steering Committee established; this formed the Technical Committee in June, tasked with creating the analytical framework for the water sector to promote sustainable water resources management.

1996 GWP was inaugurated in Stockholm, Sweden in August. A Secretariat was established in the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in Stockholm.

1996 Technical Committee held second meeting in November in Windhoek, Namibia and established the GWP Southern Africa Regional Technical Committee.

1997 Technical Committee held third meeting in May in Manila, Philippines and established the GWP Southeast Asia Regional Technical Committee.

1997 Network of Regional Technical Committees created. They would advocate change and promote knowledge exchange on better water management. Drive for membership/partners began.

1998 Country Water Partnerships began to form.

1999 The initial strategy, published in early 1999, focused on conceptual development of IWRM concepts and advocacy for IWRM approaches towards sustainable water resources management.  

2000 In conjunction with the World Water Council that made preparations for the 2nd World Water Forum in The Hague in 2000 and drafted the Vision, the GWP network held several national and regional dialogues that led to the publication and presentation of GWP’s seven regional Vision to Action documents at the Forum, together with the overall Framework for Action”. This firmly established the GWP as a key body on IWRM at the global and regional level.

2000 Following the Forum, GWP developed a 3-year work plan 2001–2003 centred on the actions identified in the Framework for Action.

2000 Decision taken to transform the Regional Technical Committees into broader, stakeholder-oriented Regional Water Partnerships, which would work with governments on national water change.

2001 GWP IWRM ToolBox launched.

2001 Area Water Partnerships began to form.

2002 GWP Secretariat formally established as an intergovernmental organisation in Sweden.

2002 The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg called for all countries to establish national IWRM and water efficiency plans by 2005. Marks GWP’s success in advocating this approach.

2003 The WSSD target, outcomes of External Review and new Executive Secretary focus on strengthening the governance and financial systems of the network, feed into the development of the new GWP Strategy 2004–2008.

2004 New strategy started; facilitating IWRM planning programmes funded and initiated.

2006 Number of Country Water Partnerships surpasses 50. Number of formal Partner organisations exceeds 1,000.

2009 Launch of GWP Strategy 2009-2013.

2014 Launch of GWP Strategy 2014-2019.

2016 GWP celebrated 20 years of impact.

2020 Launch of GWP's strategy 2020 -2025

2021 GWP celebrates its 25 years of impact.

2022   GWP IWRM Toolbox launched  launched at the 9th World Water Forum