Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme to ensure Integrated and Sustainable Management of the Transboundary Water Resources of the Amazon River Basin Considering Climate Variability and Change

Project General Information


Amazon - SAP

Ecosystems management

International Waters



Implementing Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) actions in the Amazon Basin based on a source-to-sea approach and the country endorsed Strategic Action Program to improve ecological, social and economic benefits and, enabling countries to meet their relevant SDG and convention targets in the Amazon basin.



The Amazon Basin constitutes the most bio-diverse and complex hydrographic River Basin in the world, and accounts for more than half the world's tropical rainforest which, combined with the intense evaporation and absorption of atmospheric carbon, makes the region a defining factor in global climate.

The basin covers more than 6,118,000 km2, which represent 44% of ​​South America’s land area, extending through Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. The basin has a great variety of climate and topography, with elevations ranging from sea level at the Amazon Delta Region, up to 6,500 m in the Andes. Rainfall levels range from 200 mm per year in the Andes to over 6,000 mm per year in the foothills of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela hills and Amazonian plains. Seasonal variations in rainfall result from movements in the convergence inter-tropical zone, resulting in periods of maximum rainfall between March and June in the Northern Hemisphere, and from December to March in the Southern Hemisphere. The Amazon River is the world’s largest river with an average flow of 150 m3/s consisting of more than 1,000 tributaries and an estimated length of 6,992 km. It annually discharges up to 300 m3/s of water to the Atlantic Ocean.


The population of the Amazon Basin (territory exclusively limited by the hydrographical characteristics of the Amazon River and the totality of its tributaries) is heterogeneous with different sociocultural characteristics, and was estimated at 33,486,000 inhabitants in 2007 (UNDP, 2008) representing 11% of the total population of the Member Countries of ACTO. The total population of the Amazon Region (considering the entire territory called Amazonian biome) between 2010 and 2012 was about 44 million habitants.  Brazil accounts for about 75% of the Amazonian population, followed by Peru with 13%. The Amazon population grew at an average annual rate of 2.3% from 1990 to 2007; Ecuador’s rate is of 3.6%, the highest annual average rate of the Amazon Basin.


The Amazon Forest extends from the eastern Andes in the Pacific to the Amazon plains in the Atlantic, which creates an interdependence between the two sides and makes the Amazon a strategic region in terms of its biodiversity, with more than 30,000 species of plants, nearly 2,000 species of fish, 60 species of reptiles, 35 species of mammals and approximately 1,800 species of birds. (EPA- 2014)[1]


The Amazon Basin is also an important source of non-renewable natural resources, sheltering vast reserves of gold, silver, zinc, tin, copper, oil and natural gas, in addition to large reserves of bauxite (approximately 15% of the world total).


The Amazon Basin faces numerous challenges for the Integrated Management of Transboundary Water Resources (IWRM) in the context of its socio-economic development and anthropogenic and climate impacts. The basin is a unique water system that crosses national borders of eight countries - Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela - who consider the need for a regional framework for IWRM to satisfy the urgent needs of the population and to promote the sustainable development of the Amazon Region.


The eight countries signed the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (1978) and subsequently created the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) as a platform for political dialogue and regional cooperation. As part of this regional process, Member Countries approved the Strategic Plan (2004-2012) and subsequently the Amazon Cooperation Strategic Agenda (2011-2018), which sets the vision, mission and strategic objectives of the ACTO and defines the themes and activities for cooperation. In this context, water issues are highlighted towards the adoption of an integrated approach for management of water resources of the Basin.


In this context, ACTO, on behalf of the countries of the Amazon Basin, requested support from GEF in the field of international waters, to help develop the Project "Integrated and Sustainable Management of Transboundary Water Resources in the Amazon River Basin Considering Climate Variability and Change," implemented by the United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment) and executed by the Permanent Secretariat of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (PS/ACTO). The project developed a Strategic Action Program (SAP) for the Amazon Basin to create the necessary environment for its future implementation, strengthen the institutional framework to plan and implement activities to the protection and sustainable management of water resources in the Amazon River Basin in a coordinated and coherent way.


The Member Countries adopted the methodology of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) IW:LEARN recommended approaches for the development of SAP. Based on the identification process and the analysis of the major transboundary problems and their root causes (TDA), followed by the development of a shared vision and the definition of objectives, strategies and means to address the issues and achieve solutions, the Member Countries developed the Strategic Action Program (SAP) for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Amazon Basin, considering climate variability and change.


The technical approval of the SAP by the Focal Points of the ACTO Member Countries has been concluded and the political endorsement of the national governments is in progress, with 7 of the eight countries having already politically endorsed the SAP.

[1] EPA-ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY. (2014). Guyana’s fifth national report to the convention on biological diversity. Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment Funded by the Global Environment Facility. Georgetown. September 2014.

Full Size Project(FSP)


Latin America and the Caribbean

Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela

GEF Trust Fund

Stage Grant to UNEP Grant to other IA Co-Financing UNEP Fee Other IA Fee
$ 205,479.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 19,521.00 $ 0.00
$ 11,936,073.00 $ 0.00 $ 165,198,206.00 $ 1,128,927.00 $ 0.00


United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)



Executing Agency Category

Partner Category

Name Category Period
Isabelle Vanderbeck


Fiscal Year Project activities and objectives met

$ 0.00