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Common Oceans - A partnership for sustainability in the ABNJ

Time for the GEF International Waters Signature Event: 9th Biennial International Waters Conference (IWC9)

Marrakesh, Morocco, 5-8 November 2018

5 November 2018

This week, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is hosting the signature event of the International Waters (IW) Portfolio: the 9th GEF International Waters Conference (IWC9) – an interactive training and learning event focused on this specific focal area. With the aim to address global environmental issues, the IW-Portfolio targets transboundary water systems, such as shared river basins, lakes, groundwater and large marine ecosystems, through activities carried out under a total of 359 individual Projects worldwide.

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Taking place in Marrakesh, Morocco the IWC9 is uniting over 300 participants including GEF IW Project managers, representatives of beneficiary countries, non-governmental organizations, transboundary management institutions, GEF Agencies, and the private sector, that all come together to share experiences and progress under the theme Sustaining International Waters Cooperation.  Collectively, the participants are representing 84 of the GEF IW Projects, 80 countries and various GEF Agencies. 

"As a partner agency to the GEF, FAO is pleased to be attending the IWC9" said Jeffrey Griffin, Senior Coordinator of the GEF-unit at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). "This unique partnership has been instrumental in leading several International Waters Projects responding to the challenge of safeguarding biodiversity and protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems, and we are motivated to bring together the knowledge gained from our respective experiences at the conference".

Over the course of four days, participants will get the opportunity to listen to visionary speakers, join in on project learning clinics and campfire chats, participant-led workshops, small roundtable discussions, and a film festival. Furthermore there will be technical site visits to various GEF IW Projects, non-GEF water management projects and to private sector facilities. See full agenda here.

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Snapshots from Les Jardins de l'Agdal Hotel, this year's
conference venue located in central Marrakech © FAO

Being part of the GEF IW Portfolio, representatives from the FAO-implemented Common Oceans ABNJ Program are attending the conference to share experiences, learn more about fellow Projects' achievements, but also to discuss the future within and beyond the IW community. In addition, having been assigned one of the seventeen exhibition booths in the Innovation Marketplace, the Common Oceans ABNJ Program will be showcasing how its specific results, unique approaches and catalytic outcomes have contributed to sustain the international waters cooperation.

"Over the past four years the partners have been collaborating on a wide range of activities that have brought out transformational and innovative changes and established a sound basis to continue towards strengthening governance and sustainability in tuna fisheries, and this conference provides a great opportunity for us to share our results and experiences with the IW Community" said Alejandro Anganuzzi, Global Coordinator of the Common Ocean ABNJ Program's Project on Tuna Fisheries and Biodiversity Conservation.

"I look forward to learning from other IW Projects, and it will be interesting to see how the outcomes fit together in an overall effort to strengthen and sustain cooperation towards the effective management and governance of international waters" said Miriam Balgos from the Global Ocean Forum (GOF), one of the implementing organizations of the Common Oceans ABNJ Project on Strengthening Capacity. "The Capacity Project will raise the profile of the ABNJ among the conference participants, in particular, its substantive contributions to capacity development on ABNJ at the individual, organizational and societal levels, and to the intergovernmental deliberations on an international legally-binding instrument on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction – the BBNJ-process – under UNCLOS".

All conference activities and discussions are organized to build traction of the GEF’s foundational methodology and to foster transboundary cooperation between States, but they also present an opportunity to look to the future. Going forward, the GEF is focusing its investments in areas where it can help catalyze changes necessary to safeguard the global environment. One of the objectives of the upcoming GEF-7 Programming Cycle focuses on improving management in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) – key for the Common Oceans ABNJ Program, and the potentiality of a phase two.

Learn more about the GEF IW initiative on the learning exchange and resource network IW:Learn here, and about the FAO-GEF partnership here.

The Common Oceans ABNJ Program is a five-year Program funded by the Global Environment Facility. With the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as the coordinating agency, the Program is working in close collaboration with two other GEF-implementing agencies, United Nations Environment (UNEP) and the World Bank, as well as other executing partners including Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, national governments, the private sector, and NGOs – that all work together to achieve responsible and efficient fisheries management and biodiversity conservation in the ABNJ.

For additional information about the Common Oceans ABNJ Program, please visit the website, or send an email to:


Global Environment Facility (GEF)
UN Environment World Bank