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THE GREAT RIVERS PARTNERSHIP brings together diverse stakeholders and best science to work toward sustainable management and development of the world’s most critical river systems.

 A Balanced Approach

Because Great Rivers are so vital for our well-being, we are demanding more and more from them. This challenges managers to find more effective and lasting solutions to the inherent conflicts and trade-offs.

The Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) process holds great potential for developing collaborative, system-wide approaches as a way to meet this challenge. While the process explicitly calls for the inclusion of fundamental environmental protection as part of the solution, this has not typically been the case in the past.

GRP partners, including the Global Network, bring distinct capabilities to help advance IRBM that fully incorporate environmental sustainability. As a leader in this effort, The Nature Conservancy has strong relationships and diverse partnerships throughout the public and private sectors, a 60-year record of delivering pragmatic results on the ground, and a global reach. 

Building on these strengths, the GRP is well positioned to achieve its mission.

The GRP promotes three tightly linked strategies to deliver results:
  • Support multi-stakeholder partnerships at the basin level, where key actors come together to define goals, commit resources, develop opportunities and influence major decisions.

  • Scale up the impact of basin programs by engaging in a global network of river management institutions and work to influence major public and private policy and investment decisions.

Download a PDF of the GRP strategy graphic above.

Defining IRBM

Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) is the
collaborative process of integrating the conservation, management and development of water, land and related resources across sectors within a given river basin. The purpose is to improve economic and social benefits derived from water resources in an equitable manner while preserving and, where necessary, restoring freshwater ecosystems. 

Adapted from Integrated Water Resources Management, Global Water Partnership Technical Advisory Committee Background Papers, No. 4, 2000.


Global Network

Comprised of leading organizations focused on various elements of river basin management, the Network expands opportunities to exchange best practices across basins worldwide.


Anatomy of a River

To fully appreciate the need for IRBM, it is important to understand the natural benefits of a river system. Click through this basic anatomy graphic to learn more. Or download Active River Area (6MB, pdf) for a deeper, scientific overview.

GRP Phase II: Business Plan

Learn more about GRP strategies in the 2013-2017 business plan.

A Look Back: GRP Phase I (1MB,pdf)

Download this report for an overview of GRP accomplishments in the first five years.