Mary Matthews

Mary Matthews

Dr. Mary M. Matthews currently serves as the Chief Technical Advisor and Regional Project Coordinator for the UNDP-GEF Kura II Project: Implementing IWRM Across the Kura River Basin. Mary has worked with UNDP-GEF International Waters community since 2001. She is especially interested in understanding how to help countries harmonize water management practices. Since retiring from academics, Mary has worked around the world with UNDP-GEF IW Projects. She shares a love of learning from local communities about innovative solutions and creatively applying practical measures for sustainable water management in a changing climate.

Building Harmony through GEF International Waters

How can we build river basin coordination between countries who each have their own water management interests and challenges? How do we foster cooperation between riparian nations when they are not in agreement about the causes of degraded waters? How should we build institutions that overcome differences and foster long term commitments to co-manage shared river basins?

The GEF (Global Environment Facility) International Water Portfolio employs a multistage approach to transboundary river basin management that starts with challenges and ends with harmonization, even in the most challenging of basins. The GEF International Waters approach builds consensus through a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) based on empirical data. Root Cause Analyses identify optimal areas for interventions, and Strategic Action Programmes (SAPs) guide the way forward. This methodology has been tried and tested around the world in over 50 international river basins in the GEF IW Family.

The UNDP GEF Kura Basin Project provides a case study to explore challenges and answer these questions based on the experiences in the South Caucasus. The story told through the TDA foundation to the SAP development and implementation follows the tale of a river basin flowing from great mountains and crossing arid lands reach the Caspian Sea. In a region beset by ancient empires and at the heart of geopolitical intrigues, the waters of the Kura speak of historical wildness to soothing hot springs to serving as the foundation for cities at the cross roads of the world.

The GEF International Waters TDA/SAP approach has empowered stakeholders, guided governments, and created consensus for sustainable development around the world.

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