GEMS/Water: A 50-year history

14 Jun 2022
GEMS/Water: A 50-year history

Since its inception 50 years ago, GEMS/Water has become one of the longest running operational programmes of the United Nations. 

To mark the role of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in encouraging and supporting global water quality, a group of retired GEMS/Water colleagues got together to produce a brochure describing the history, role, achievements and challenges of the GEMS/Water programme. The brochure was released in early June and can be accessed here: 50 years GEMS Water brochure 

At the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO) were commissioned to launch a global health-related water quality monitoring programme - GEMS/Water was formally launched five years later. Now in its third phase, the programme focuses on maintenance and expansion of the global water quality database (GEMStat), located at the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change (ICWRGC), Germany, and on capacity development to support water quality monitoring in developing countries, centred at University College Cork, Ireland. In previous phases, the focus was on establishing a global network and preparing water quality assessments. A global network of over 100 national agencies, international bodies and water institutes have now been established as GEMS/Water partners, providing water quality data to GEMStat and referring recipients for GEMS/Water training and education programmes.

UNEP GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre

UNEP GEMS/Ionad Forbartha Acmhainneachta Uisce

Environmental Research Institute, Ellen Hutchins Building, University College Cork