International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

IWC6 2011

17 - 20 October 2011 - Croatia
6th Biannual International Waters Confererence

The 6th GEF Biennial International Waters Conference, hosted by the Government of Croatia, took place in Dubrovnik from 17-20 October, 2011. The Gala Dinner Celebrating 20 Years of GEF Transboundary Water Results was held on 19 October. Special workshops for GEF IW project managers took place from 15-16 October. If you have any questions regarding the IWC6, please email:

What is the GEF and its International Waters Focal Area?

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) –, unites 182 member governments - in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector — to address global environmental issues. An independent financial organization, the GEF provides grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. These projects benefit the global environment, linking local, national, and global environmental challenges and promoting sustainable livelihoods

The GEF International Waters (IW) focal area targets transboundary water systems, such as shared river basins, lakes, groundwater and large marine ecosystems. The IW portfolio comprises to date 170 projects and consists of some US$1.2 billion of GEF grants invested in 149 different countries globally. This investment has leveraged approximately US$5 billion in co-financing. By all accounts and evaluations, since the inception of the GEF in 1991, the IW portfolio has delivered substantive results and replicable experiences to be scaled-up and mainstreamed globally.

What is the IWC6, its objectives and theme?

The Sixth GEF Biennial International Waters Conference, as with prior IW Conferences, will be a signature learning event for the GEF IW focal area. It will be an active training and experience-sharing event during which the participants will not only sum up the progress achieved but also will look into the future of programming within and beyond the focal area. The general objective of the Biennial GEF International Waters Conference is to facilitate cross-sectoral and portfolio-wide learning & experience sharing. It is also to solicit advice from the existing IW portfolio on burning issues and assist in assist in building participant capacity in key management and technical areas. 

The Conference will be organized under the slogan Raising the Bar: 20 Years of GEF Transboundary Water Results, and will focus on knowledge sharing on water management issues and results after 20 years of interventions. The Conference also has the objective to promote public-private partnerships in support of better water management and identification of modalities for their development.

This years Conference will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the GEF’s establishment. As such, the IWC6 will focus on the transboundary results & impacts of the GEF International waters portfolio after 20 years and they inform programming for the future. There will sub-themes focusing on environmental finance (featuring a first-time corporate and social responsibility roundtable with private sector companies), as well as considerations of the institutional & sectoral transformation.

Who are its participants?

The IWC6 will convene at least 300 participants, including GEF IW project managers, representatives of beneficiary countries, non-governmental organizations, transboundary management institutions, UN agencies and the private sector. Collectively they will represent about 70 active GEF IW projects, 80 countries and the various GEF Agencies. Participants are invited by the GEF Agencies implementing IW projects.

What is the conference structure and when will the 20 Years of GEF IW be celebrated?

The IWC6 will feature an innovation marketplace (exhibit area), extensive opportunities for focused learning on scientific and technical innovations, interactive training for IW project managers and country representatives, interaction with the GEF Secretariat, GEF agencies and several partner institutions working on International Waters projects. 

The Conference will also feature participant-directed workshops and round-table discussions, as well as offering the highly unique and unprecedented option of undertaking technical site visits to multiple GEF IW projects in a transboundary context around Dubrovnik, in some cases to the neighboring countries of Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro. While visiting the sites the participants will be able to discuss and share their experiences in the context of actual projects. Participants will be able to take part in visiting the sites where the IW projects are being implemented and have an opportunity to discuss and share their experiences. 

As mentioned, part of the Conference will be dedicated to the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of GEF IW focal area. Although the main focus of this event will be on the future of the Global Environment Facility and identification of the path forward, participants will also be able showcase achievements and results from the IW project portfolio since the creation of GEF in 1991. This will culminate in a Gala dinner celebrating the 20th anniversary of GEF IW on 19 October 2011. Senior management and representatives from the private sector will also join.