International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

2.1 - As a new Project Manager - What must I do?

The job of the Project Manager is a challenge. It is both straight forward and complex: the Project Manager is expected to implement the project according to the detailed Project Document and logframe according to time and budget constraints whilst satisfying a multitude of stakeholders’ demands and expectations which inevitably evolve over time. Developing an implementation plan that meets the expectations, time and budget will be the first complex issue to be encountered; sticking to this plan will be the next. The  Project Manager will need multiple skills to be able to prioritise the work and demands, to adapt to changing expectations and situations and to ensure that the main stakeholders of the project are delighted with the outputs and subsequent outcomes.

There are many things that have to be completed by the project – both technical programmes and more administrative tasks. The main steps in the project from GEF CEO approval of the project through to closure are summarised in Part 2 (Check list), Part 3 (the ‘how to’ guide) and Part 4 (examples from IW projects). Again it is important to stress that this is a guide: each project is different settings change, issues differ, Agency requirements vary and of course, stakeholders are not the same.

Simply put, the Project Manager and the PCU must:

  • Deliver the project as planned (meeting objectives, goals outcomes etc. within time and budget.);
  • Keep stakeholders informed and engaged;
  • Report to IAs/EAs as required;
  • Capture lessons and experiences to share with other IW projects;
  • Record and report the performance and achievement of the project (specifically the successes of the project including Process, Stress Reduction and, Socio-economic and Environmental Status Indicator data).


There is a multitude of project management guidance and this GEF IW Project Management Manual  does not try to replicate these relevant documents. In addition to a number of the GEF Agencies having specific guidance for project managers there are many other sources (from commercial and governmental organisations) offering advice.

In the first instance project management staff should refer to their GEF Agency (both implementing and executing) colleagues to seek any guidance that has been prepared on project management.


In the last 20+ years that GEF has been funding projects, there has built up a wealth of experience – the challenge is to track down where this knowledge is and how to obtain it as effectively and efficiently as possible. But key here is that ‘you are not alone’ - so ask.

Who to ask first for GEF Project Management advice?

  • Colleagues in the PCU
  • Other GEF IW Project Managers (both old and new)
  • GEF Executing Agencies for specific guidance on issues including:
    • Procurement
    • Recruitment
    • Drafting tenders
    • Travel
    • Financial arrangements
    • Reporting
  • GEF Implementing Agencies
    • Reporting
    • History of the project development
    • Linkages to other GEF IW projects

GEF IW Project Manager's Community of Practice

GEF IW:LEARN has established a ‘Project Managers’ Community of Practice, where project managers (and other project staff) can raise issues or questions for discussion by the wider IW community.

Web databases of experiences relevant to GEF IW projects can also be found at:


Don’t wait too long before seeking help. The GEF IW community has much experience and expertise in project management of complex environment projects, and whilst your situation /problem may seem unique others will have encountered similar issues and have suggestions on helping to solve your problem.  Remember the GEF IW is a Team.