The TWAP is an international project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), with the goal of conducting a global-scale assessment of five major types of transboundary water systems; namely, lakes, rivers, groundwater aquifers, large marine ecosystems, and the open oceans. The objective is to rank these five major types of transboundary water systems in regard to their degree of vulnerability to human impacts. Being conducted in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the results of this global assessment are two-fold, including providing a baseline assessment of the status of these transboundary water systems, as well as a means of establishing priorities in regard to the most effective allocation of GEF funds within its International Waters portfolio.
The component of the TWAP dealing with lakes and reservoirs is being conducted by the International Lake Environment Committee (ILEC), headquartered in Kusatsu, Japan. In contrast to organizations collaborating with the other TWAP working groups, ILEC is not part of the UN System. Located on the shoreline of Lake Biwa, an ancient lake in Japan, ILEC focuses on promoting rational management of lakes and their catchment areas, consistent with the underlying policy of sustainable development. ILEC conducts its activities in collaboration with its multinational advisory Scientific Committee, and in cooperation with counterparts from the scientific, governmental and private sectors involved in the conservation of lakes and other lentic water systems. Its primary activities include:
(1) Collecting, analyzing and disseminating information and data on environmental and related aspects of lakes, reservoirs and
other lentic (pooled, standing) water systems;
(2) Promoting technical and management training and workshops on the lake environment;
(3) Collaborating with governmental agencies, research institutes and NGOs throughout the world, particularly in developing
countries, on comprehensive and environmentally-sound water management and basin governance directed to the sustainable
use of their life-supporting ecosystem goods and services
Lakes, reservoirs and other lentic water systems contain more than 90 percent of the liquid freshwater on the Earth’s surface, and also display several unique characteristics, including an integrating nature that ensure lake problems become lake-wide in scope, a long water residence time that can mask lake degradation until it has become a serious problem, and complex biological and chemical dynamics. Taking these factors into account, specific goals of the TWAP lakes component is to analyze the lake threat rankings, including consideration of the contextual factors that must be considered in order to accurately interpret the transboundary lakes threat rankings, and analysis of their implications in regard to developing and implementing needed management interventions for their sustainable use.