International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

4.5 - Inter-ministerial Committees and Commissions

GEF IW project experiences in inter-ministerial committees and commissions is available here.

Responsibilities for water resources development and management are often fragmented over many sectors. Solutions should be cross-cutting throughout the decision-making process in different sectors and at different levels.

GWP describes such IMC committees  as Apex bodies ( Apex bodies consist of a range of entities such as high level steering groups within national governments, inter-agency task forces (for specific purposes e.g. water pollution control), and international consortia for the management of water resources. The aim of such bodies is to provide structures for co-ordination between different organisations involved in water resource management. In some cases water policy and management is centred in a specific body of government but in many situations responsibility for water is shared between a number of bodies (e.g. ministries for irrigation, environment and public works) that may not be able to operate easily together. Here an apex body may provide a useful co-ordinating function.

The functions of these bodies vary considerably. As many governments endorse and seek to use IWRM, the intended outcomes include:

  • Improved co-ordination of government functions through integrated plans of action
  • Structural change within government agencies to facilitate better co-ordination
  • Creation of new departments or commissions and authorities for natural resources management, aligned to river basins and/or ecological zones

The role of an apex body depends on the economic, social and encompassing political issues, even more than on the technical IWRM issues.

Further information:


Waterbody/Regional Commissions

The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River has established guidance and FAQs on commissions (

Experience with Transboundary Commissions

Nico Willemse, Project Manager of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (UNDP-GEF), provides some lessons on developing a transboundary basin commission.